Saturday, January 22, 2011

* Out In The Be-Bop, Literally Be-Bop 1960s Night-A Walk Down "Dream Street"

Markin, Class of 1964, comment:

When you were a high school student did you ever sit on the main entrance steps of North Adamsville High and dream of your future?

Ah, literary license. Where would we be without it?  At least those of us who, cursed, try to stand under its umbrella and not abuse the language and the reader’s patience too much. This particular license violation revolves around the rather seedy history of this entry. Dreams. But not just any dreams, and not anytime dreams. Those, as I have found out, and you have too, are a dime a dozen, maybe cheaper. No, I am talking about fresh dreams, fresh, creamy, minty dreams from youth, from high school, especially from the 1960s high school be-bop night of youth that I was pitching my question to, and future prospects. And, more importantly, how they, the dreams that is, if not the prospects, worked out.

In line with that question I also needed to know, and maybe that is really what I was looking for, was how hard anyone thought about the subject, and in what way and where. In short, was I among a small or large number of people who were driven to distraction, no, beyond distraction, no, had their sleep disturbed by the question.  And, that simply put, was the little, very little, idea that got the ball rolling. Now this wee idea started life in this space about three years ago as a couple of paragraphs, a couple of stretched out paragraphs, ginned up, if you really wanted to know. Over time it blossomed into several paragraphs without really any effort, or any added insight into the question. And now it is going to be expanded, don’t ask me how much longer, with that same core question at the center. That tells me (and the reader) two things; someone has a little time on their hands; and, the little ball be-bop high school night dream thing was (is) of far greater import than my original cavalier notion of the theme when I first presented it would have indicated. For those who are experiencing this blockbuster entry for the first time I have left the previously outlined parameters of the question just below so you will be able to follow along, although I am not sure now if it is the original one or some later mongrel son of the original.          


This now seemingly benighted entry, originally simply titled ,A Walk Down “Dream” Street, started life as an equally simple question posed to fellow classmates in the North Adamsville High School Class of 1964 (although the question is also suitable to be asked of other classes, and other schools, as well) in the year 2008 on some cyberspace class site, a site that finally reconnected me with my old high school friend, Frankie, Francis Xavier Riley, be-bop king of the North Adamsville schoolboy night in the early 1960s . I had “discovered” the site that year after having gone through a series of events the details of which need not detain us right now but that drove me back to memories, hard, hard-bitten, hard-aching, hard-longing, mist of time, dream memories, of North schoolboy days and of the need to search for my old high school friend and running mate (literally, in track and cross country, as well as “running” around town doing boy high school things, doing the best we could, or trying to).

Naturally, the question was posed in its particular form, or so it seemed natural at the time for me to pose it that way, because those old, “real”, august, imposing, institutionally imposing, grey granite-quarried (from the Granite City, the unofficial, or maybe official for all I know, nickname of the town, reflecting the Italian immigrant labor-sweated quarries that dotted the outer reaches of the town and that was one of its earlier industries) main entrance steps (in those days serious steps, two steps at a time steps, especially if you missed first bell, flanked by globular orbs and, like some medieval church, gargoyle-like columns up to the second floor, hence “real”) is a place where Frankie and I spent a lot of our time, time when he wasn’t out on a single date with his ever-loving honey, Joanne, Joanne Marion Murphy, the “queen” of the be-bop night although she was never called that, and would have heaped scorn, big scorn on that idea, that was a Frankie-Markin secret shake thing), talking of this and that.

Especially summer night time talk (Joanne, lace curtain Irish, lace curtain working class Irish if you will,  Joanne went “summering” with her parents and siblings for several weeks of those summers, the summers that mattered: hot, sultry, sweaty, steam-drained, no money in pockets, no car to explore the great American teenage night; the be-bop, doo-wop, do doo do doo, ding dong daddy, real gone daddy, be my daddy, let it be me, the night time is the right time, car window-fogged, honk if you love jesus (or whatever activity produced those incessant honks in key turned-off cars), love-tinged, or at least sex-tinged, endless sea, Adamsville Beach night. Do I need to draw you a picture, I think not. But we are sitting, sitting hard, granite steps bound, dream fluttering like mad men.  

And some more details of that night missed for the less sex-crazed. Say, for the faint-hearted, or good, denizens of that great American teenage night how about a Howard Johnson’s ice cream (make mine cherry vanilla, double scoop, no jimmies, please) or a trip to American Graffiti-like fast food drive-in, hamburger, hold the onions (just in case today is the night that that certain she I had eyed, eyed to perdition, eyed to eyes sore,  in school all spring shows her tight-bloused, Capri-panted form in the door), fries and a frappe, not wimpy milk shake (I refuse to describe that frappe taste treat at this far remove, look it up on Wikipedia, or one of those info-sites) Southern Artery night. Lost, all irretrievably lost, and no thousand, thousand (thanks, Sam Coleridge), no, million later, greater experiences can ever replace that. And, add in, non-dated-up, and no possibility of sweet-smelling, soft, rounded, bare shoulder-showing summer sun-dressed (or wintry, bundled up, soft-furred, cashmere-bloused, for that matter), big-haired (hey, do you expect me to remember the name of the hair styles, too?), ruby red-lipped (see, I got the color right), dated-up in sight. So you can see what that “running around town, doing the best we could” of ours mainly consisted in those sweat stairs nights.

Mostly, we spoke of dreams of the future: small, soft, fluttery, airless, flightless, high school kid-sized, working class-sized, North Adamsville-sized, non-world–beater-sized, no weight dreams really, no, that’s not right, they were weighty enough but only until 18 years old , or maybe 21 year old, weighty. A future driven though, and driven hard, by the need to get out from under, to get away from, to put many miles between us and it, crazy family life (the details of which need not detain us here at all, as I now know, and I have some stories to prove it, that condition was epidemic in the old town then, and probably still is). And also of getting out of one-horse, teen life-stealing, soul-cramping, dream-stealing, small or large take your pick, even breathe-stealing, North Adamsville.  Of getting out into the far reaches, as far as desire and dough would carry, of the great wild, wanderlust, cosmic, American day and night hitch-hike if you have too, shoe leather-beating walking if you must, road (or European road, or wherever, Christ, even Revere in a crunch, but mainly putting some miles between).

The question, that simple question that I asked above, moreover, did not stand in isolation. As part of that search for “run around” Frankie, king of the night Frankie, for figuring out tangled roots, for hard looking at past, good or evil, for hard longing connectedness to youth, for bleeding raider red days I took advantage of that non-descript North Adamsville Class of 1964 message board to fire off, what now seems like an small atomic bombardment of entries about this and that, some serious, most whimsical. (They are, for the most part, still there if you are interested). Obviously though not every question I intended to pose there, or here, especially not this one, was meant to be as whimsical as the first one that I did about the comparative merits of the Rolling Stones and Beatles. With this long-stemmed introduction the rest of the 2008 original entry is (edited a bit) is, in the interest of keeping with its original purpose of trying give my answer the question posed, posted below:

“Today I am interested in the relationship between our youthful dreams and what actually happened in our lives; our dreams of glory out in the big old world that we did not make, and were not asked about making; of success whether of the pot of gold or less tangible, but just as valuable, goods, or better, ideas; of things or conditions, of himalayas, conquered, physically or mentally; of discoveries made, of self or the whole wide world, great or small. Or, perhaps, of just getting by, just putting one foot in the front of the other two days in a row; of keeping one’s head above water under the impact of young life’s woes; of not sinking down further into the human sink; of smaller, pinched, very pinched, existential dreams but dreams nevertheless.

I will confess here, as this seemingly is a confessional age, or, maybe just as a vestige of that family history-rooted, hard-crusted, incense-driven, fatalistic Catholic upbringing long abandoned but etched in, no, embedded in, some far recesses of memory that my returning to the North Adamsville High School Class of 1964 fold did not just occur by happenstance. A couple of months ago (December 2007) my mother, Arlene Margaret Markin (nee O’Brian), NAHS Class of 1943, passed away. For a good part of her life she lived in locations a mere stone's throw from the school. You could, for example, see the back of the school from my grandparents' house on
Young Street
. As part of the grieving process, I suppose, I felt a need to come back to North Adamsville. To my, and her, roots. As part of that experience as I walked up
Hancock Street
and down East Squantum I passed by the old high school. That triggered some memories, some dream street memories, which motivate today's question.

If my memory is correct, and I am not just dream-addled, I had not been in North Adamsville for at least the pass 25 years and so I was a little surprised to see that the main entrance steps of the high school, and central to the question posed here, were no longer there. You remember the steps, right? They led to the then second floor and were flanked by, I think, a couple of lions or some gargoyles. (I have since then, after viewing a copy of the 1964 Manet, found out that they were actually flanked by a sphere and a column on each side. (I was close though, right?) I can remember spending many a summer night during high school, along with my old pal from the class Frankie, Francis Xavier Riley, the legendary be-bop, “faux” beatnik king of the night, sitting on those steps talking about our futures. Now for this question I am only using the steps as a metaphor, so to speak. You probably have your own 'steps' metaphor for where you thrashed out your dreams. How did they work out?

A lot of what Frankie and I talked about at the time was how we were going to do in the upcoming cross country and track seasons, girls (although Frankie, when the deal went down always had his ever-loving Joanne to keep him warm against the hard edges of the teen night), the desperate need to get away from the family trap, girls, no money in pockets for girls, cars, no money for cars, girls. (Remember, please, those were the days when future expectations, and anguishes, were expressed in days and months, not years.) Of course we dreamed of being world-class runners, as every runner does. Frankie went on to have an outstanding high school career. I, on the other hand, was, giving myself much the best of it, a below average runner. So much for some dreams.

We spoke, as well, of other dreams then. I do not remember the content of Bill's but mine went something like this. I had dreams for social justice. For working people to get a fair shake in this sorry old world. That, my friends, has, sad to say, not turned out as expected. But enough from me. I will finish this entry with a line from a Bob Dylan lyric. "I'll let you be in my dream, if I can be in your dream". Fair enough?”

From The Lenin Internet Archives- Lenin And The Fight Against Imperialist War (1914-1917)-Speech Delivered at an International Meeting in Berne, February 8, 1916[1]

Markin comment:

It would seem almost unnecessary to comment on Lenin’s Bolshevik positions on imperialist war, as exemplified by his analysis of the war that he actually had to fight against, World War I. Those positions reflected his understanding that with that war the nature of capitalism had changed, definitively, from a progressive step for humankind to just a squalid, never-ending struggle among “thieves” for control of the world’s resources. It would have seemed almost unnecessary to mention this, that is, for earlier leftist generations who were familiar with his various slogans centrally-“the main enemy is at home” (adapted from German revolutionary Karl Liebknecht-“not one penny, not one man for the imperialist war”- “turn the guns the other way” (toward your own rulers)-and, specific to Bolsheviks- “fight for a new workers international, the Third International” (to replace bankrupt Second International).

Now, especially after the past several anti-war rallies that I have attended, I am not sure who among the attendees is familiar with his work. With all the pacifist, stop war in general, peace now, let all men and women be brothers and sisters rhetoric ringing in my ears I have to assume not. More importantly, I do not see such slogans (or anything close to them) emblazoned on any banners lately. Thus, in a month when we of the international communist movement honor Lenin anyway (along with the aforementioned Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, the Rose of the revolution) this series will try to familiarize those who seek a better struggle against imperialist war than is being presented now with “red” anti-war positions.
V. I. Lenin
Speech Delivered at an International Meeting in Berne, February 8, 1916[1]

Published: Berner Tagwacht, No. 33, February 9, 1916. First published in the Russian in 1929 in the second and third editions of Lenin’s Collected Works, Vol. XIX. Translated from the German. Published according to the text in Berner Tagwacht.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, UNKNOWN, [19xx], Moscow, Volume 22, pages 123-126.
Transcription\Markup: Charles Farrell and D. Walters
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2005). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
Other Formats: Text • README



Comrades! The European war has been raging for more than eighteen months. And as each month, as each day of the war goes by, it becomes clearer and clearer to the masses of the workers that the Zimmerwald = Manifesto[2] expressed the truth when it declared that phrases about “defence of the fatherland” and the like are nothing but capitalist deception. It is becoming more evident every day that this is a war between capitalists, between big robbers, who are quarrelling over the loot, each striving to obtain the largest share, the largest number of countries to plunder, and the largest number of nations to suppress and enslave.

It may sound incredible, especially to Swiss comrades, but it is nevertheless true that in Russia, also, not only bloody tsarism, not only the capitalists, but also a section of the so-called or ex-Socialists say that Russia is fighting a “war of defence,” that Russia is only fighting against German invasion. The whole world knows, however, that for decades tsarism has been oppressing more than a hundred million people belonging to other nationalities in Russia; that for decades Russia has been pursuing a predatory policy towards China, Persia, Armenia and Galicia. Neither Russia, nor Germany, nor any other Great Power has the right to claim that it is waging a “war of defence”; all the Great Powers are waging an imperialist, capitalist war, a predatory war, a war for the oppression of small and foreign nations, a war for the sake of the profits of the capitalists, who are coining golden profits amounting to billions out of the appalling sufferings of the masses, out of the blood of the proletariat.
Four years ago, in November 1912, when it had become clear that war was approaching, the representatives of the Socialist Parties of the whole world gathered at the International Socialist Congress in Basle. Even at that time there was no room for doubt that the impending war would be a war between the Great Powers, between the great beasts of prey; that responsibility for the war would rest upon the governments and the capitalist classes of all the Great Powers. The Basle Manifesto, which was adopted unanimously by the Socialist Parties of the whole world, openly stated this truth. The Basle Manifesto does not say a word about a “war of defence,” or “defence of the fatherland.” It castigates the governments and the bourgeoisie of all the Great Powers without exception. It said openly that war would be the greatest of crimes, that the workers would consider it a crime to shoot at each other, that the horrors of war and the indignation these would rouse among the workers would inevitably lead to a proletarian revolution.

When the war actually broke out it was realised that its character had been correctly defined at Basle. But the Socialist and labour organisations were not unanimous in carrying out the Basle decisions; they split. We see now that in all countries of the world the Socialist and labour organisations are split into two big camps. The smaller section, the leaders, functionaries and officials, have betrayed Socialism and have deserted to the side of the governments. Another section, to which the mass of class conscious workers belong, continues to gather its forces, to fight against the war and for the proletarian revolution.

The views of this latter section also found expression in the Zimmerwald Manifesto.

In Russia, from the very beginning of the war, the workers’ deputies in the Duma waged a determined revolutionary struggle against the war and the tsarist monarchy. Five workers’ deputies—Petrovsky, Badayev, Muranov, Shagov and Samoilov—distributed revolutionary manifestoes against the war and energetically carried on revolutionary agitation. Tsarism ordered the arrest of those five deputies, put them on trial, and sentenced them to lifelong exile in Siberia. For months the leaders of the working class of Russia have been pining in Siberia; but their cause has not gone under; their work is being continued by the class-conscious workers all over Russia.

Comrades! You have heard the speeches of representatives of various countries, who have told you about the workers’ revolutionary struggle against the war. I merely want to quote one other example from that great and rich country, the United States of America. The capitalists of that country are now making enormous profits out of the European war. And they, too, are agitating for war. They say that America must also prepare to take part in the war, hundreds of millions of dollars must be squeezed out of the people for new armaments, for armaments without end. And in America, too, a section of the Socialists echoes this false, criminal call. Let me read to you what Comrade Eugene Debs, the most popular leader of the American Socialists, the Presidential candidate of the American Socialist Party, writes.

In the September 11, 1915, American weekly, The Appeal to Reason,[3] September 11, 1915, he says: “I am not a capitalist soldier; I am a proletarian revolutionist. I do not belong to the regular army of rite plutocracy, but to the irregular army of the people. I refuse to obey any command to fight for the ruling class.... I am opposed to every war but one; I am for that war with heart and soul, and that is the world-wide war of the social revolution. In that war I am prepared to fight in any way the ruling class may make it necessary....”

This is what Eugene Debs, the American Bebel, the beloved leader of the American workers, writes to them.

This again shows you, comrades, that in all countries of the world real preparations are being made to rally the forces of the working class. The horrors of war and the sufferings of the people are incredible. But we must not, and we have no reason whatever, to view the future with despair.

The millions of victims who will fall in the war, and as a consequence of the war, will not fall in vain. The millions who are starving, the millions who are sacrificing their lives in the trenches, are not only suffering, they are also gathering strength, are pondering over the real cause of the war, are becoming more determined and are acquiring a clearer revolutionary understanding. Rising discontent of the masses, growing ferment, strikes, demonstrations, protests against the war—all this is taking place in all countries of the world. And this is the guarantee that the European War will be followed by the proletarian revolution against capitalism.

[1] This speech was delivered at an international rally during the enlarged meeting of the I.S.C. [executive of the Zimmerwald group] in Berne.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Out In The Be-Bop Night- The Pizza Toss Bet

Out In The Be-Bop Night- The Pizza Toss Bet

Markin comment:

You all know Frankie, right? Frankie, Francis Xavier Riley, map of Ireland, fierce Frankie when necessary, and usually kind Frankie by rough inclination. Ya, Frankie from the old North Adamsville neighborhood. Frankie to the tenement, the cold-water flat tenement, born. Frankie, no moola, no two coins to rub together except by wit or chicanery, poor as a church mouse if there ever was such a thing, a poor church mouse that is. Yes, that Frankie. And, as well, this writer, his faithful scribe chronicling his tales, his regal tales. Said scribe to the public housing flats, hot-water flats, but still flats, born. And poorer even than any old Frankie church mouse. More importantly though, more importantly for this story that I am about to tell you than our respective social class positions, is that Frankie is king, the 1960s king hell king of Salducci’s Pizza Parlor, if not then North Adamsville’s finest still the place where we spent many a misbegotten hour, and truth to tell, just plain killed some time when we were down at our heels, or maybe down to our heels.

Sure you know about old Frankie’s royal heritage too. I clued you in before when I wrote about my lost in the struggle for power as I tried to overthrow the king when we entered North Adamsville High in 1960. By wit, chicanery, guile, bribes, threats, physical and mental, and every other form of madness he clawed his way to power after I forgot the first rule of trying to overthrow a king- you have to make sure he is dead. But mainly it was his "style”, he mad-hatter “beat” style , wherefore he attempted to learn, and to impress the girls (and maybe a few guys too), with his arcane knowledge of every oddball fact that anyone would listen to for two minutes. After my defeat we went back and forth about it, he said, reflecting his peculiar twist on his Augustinian-formed Roman Catholicism, it was his god-given right to be king of this particular earthy kingdom but foolish me I tried to justify his reign based on that old power theory (and discredited as least since the 17th century) of the divine right of kings. But enough of theory. Here’s why, when the deal went down, Frankie was king, warts and all.

All this talk about Frankie royal lineage kind of had me remembering a story, a Frankie pizza parlor story. Remind me to tell you about it sometime, about how we used to bet on pizza dough flying. What the heck I have a few minutes I think I will tell you now because it will also be a prime example, maybe better than the one I was originally thinking about, of Frankie’s treacheries that I mentioned before. Now that I think about it again my own temperature is starting to rise. If I see that bastard again I’m going to... Well, let me just tell the story and maybe your sympathetic temperature will rise a bit too.

One summer night, ya, it must have been a summer night because this was the time of year when we had plenty of time on our hands to get a little off-handedly off-hand. In any case it would have had to be between our junior and senior years at old North Adamsville High because we were talking a lot in those days about what we were going to do, or not do, after high school. And it would have had to have been on a Monday or Tuesday summer night at that and we were deflated from a hard weekend of this and that, mainly, Frankie trying to keep the lid on his relationship with his ever lovin’ sweetie, Joanne. Although come to think of it that was a full-time occupation and it could have been any of a hundred nights, summer nights or not. I was also trying to keep a lid on my new sweetie, Lucinda, a sweetie who seemed to be drifting away, or at least in and out on me, mostly out, and mostly because of my legendary no dough status (that and no car, no sweet ride down the boulevard, the beach boulevard so she could impress HER friends, ya it was that kind of relationship). Anyway it's a summer night when we had time on our hands, idle time, devil’s time according to mothers’ wit, if you want to know the truth, because his lordship (although I never actually called him that), Frankie I, out of the blue made me the following proposition. Bet: how high will Tonio flip his pizza dough on his next pass through.

Now this Tonio, as you know already if you have read the story about how Frankie became king of the pizza parlor, and if you don’t you will hear more about him later, is nothing but an ace, numero uno, primo pizza flinger. Here’s a little outline of the contours of his art, although minus the tenderness, the care, the genetic dispositions, and who knows, the secret song or incantation that Tonio brought to the process. I don’t know much about the backroom work, the work of putting all the ingredients together to make the dough, letting the dough sit and rise and then cutting it up into pizza-size portions. I only really know the front of the store part- the part where he takes that cut dough portion in front of him in the preparation area and does his magic. That part started with a gentle sprinkling of flour to take out some of the stickiness of the dough, then a rough and tumble kneading of the dough to take any kinks out, and while taking the kinks out the dough gets flattened, flattened enough to start taking average citizen-recognizable shape as a pizza pie. Sometimes, especially if Frankie put in an order, old Tonio would knead that dough to kingdom come. Now I am no culinary expert, and I wasn’t then, no way, but part of the magic of a good pizza is to knead that dough to kingdom come so if you see some geek doing a perfunctory couple of wimpy knead chops then move on, unless you are desperate or just ravenously hungry.

Beyond the extra knead though the key to the pizza is the thinness of the crust and hence the pizza tosses. And this is where Tonio was a Leonardo-like artist, no, that’s not right, this is where he went into some world, some place we would never know. I can still see, and if you happened to be from old North Adamsville, you probably can still see it too if you patronized the place or stood, waiting for that never-coming Eastern Mass. bus, in front of the big, double-plate glass pizza parlor windows watching in amazement while Tonio tossed that dough about a million times in the air. Artistry, pure and simple.

So you can see now, if you didn’t quite get it before that Frankie’s proposition is nothing but an old gag kind of bet, a bet on where Tonio will throw, high or low. Hey, it’s just a variation on a sports bet, like in football, make the first down or not, pass or rush, and so on, except its pizza tosses, okay. Of course, unlike sports, at least known sports, there are no standards in place so we have to set some rules, naturally. Since its Frankie’s proposition he gets to give the rules a go, and I can veto.

Frankie, though, and sometimes he could do things simple, although that was not his natural inclination; his natural inclination was to be arcane in all things, and not just with girls. Simply Frankie said in his Solomonic manner that passed for wisdom, above or below the sign in back of Tonio’s preparation area, the sign that told the types of pizza sold, their sizes, their cost and what else was offered for those who didn’t want pizza that night.

You know such signs, every pizza palace has them, and other fast eat places too, you have to go to “uptown” eateries for a tabled menu in front of your eyes, and only your eyes, but here’s Tonio’s public offerings. On one side of the sign plain, ordinary, vanilla, no frills pizza, cheap, maybe four or five dollars for a large, small something less, although don’t hold me to the prices fifty years later for christ sakes, no fixings. Just right for “family night”, our family night later, growing up later, earlier in hot-water flats, public housing hot-water flats time, we had just enough money for Spam, not Internet spam, spam meat although that may be an oxymoron and had no father hard-worked cold cash for exotic things like pizza, not a whole one anyway, in our household. And from what Frankie told me his too.

Later , when we had a little more money and could “splurge” for an occasional take-out, no home delivery in those days, when ma didn’t feel like cooking, or it’s too hot, or something and to avoid civil wars, the bloody brother against brother kind, plain, ordinary vanilla pizza is like manna from heaven for mama, although nobody really wants it and you just feel bloated after eating your share (and maybe the crust from someone who doesn’t like crust, or maybe you traded for it); or, plain, by the slice, out of the oven (or more likely oven-re-heated after open air sitting on some aluminum special pizza plate for who knows how long) the only way you could get it after school with a tonic (also known as soda for you old days non-New Englanders and progeny), usually a root beer, a Hires root beer to wash away the in-school blahs, especially the in-school cafeteria blahs.

Or how about plump Italian sausage, Tonio thickly-sliced, or spicy-side thinly-sliced pepperoni later when you had a couple of bucks handy to buy your own, and to share with your fellows (those fellows, hopefully, including girls, always hopefully, including girls) and finally got out from under family plain and, on those lucky occasions, and they were lucky like from heaven, when girl-dated you could show your stuff, your cool, manly stuff, and divide, divide, if you can believe that, the pizza half one, half the other fixing, glory be; onion or anchovies, oh no, the kiss of death, no way if you had the least hope for a decent night and worst, the nightmarish worst, when your date ordered her portion with either of these, although maybe, just maybe once or twice, it saved you from having to do more than a peck of a kiss when your date turned out not to be the dream vision you had hoped for; hams, green peppers, mushrooms, hamburg, and other oddball toppings I will not even discuss because such desecration of Tonio’s pizza, except, maybe extra cheese, such Americanized desecration , should have been declared illegal under some international law, no question; or, except, maybe again, if you had plenty of dough, had a had a few drinks, for your gourmet delight that one pig-pile hunger beyond hunger night when all the fixings went onto the thing. Whoa. Surely you would not find on Tonio’s blessed sign this modern thing, this Brussels sprouts, broccoli, alfalfa sprouts, wheat germ, whole wheat, soy, sea salt, himalaya salt, canola oil, whole food, pseudo-pizza not fit for manly (or womanly) consumption, no, not in those high cholesterol, high-blood pressure, eat today for tomorrow you may die days.

On the other side of the sign, although I will not rhapsodize about Tonio’s mastery of the submarine sandwich art (also known as heroes and about seventy-six other names depending on where you grew up, what neighborhood you grew up in, and who got there first, who, non-Puritan, got there first that is) are the descriptions of the various sandwich combinations (all come with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, the outlawed onions, various condiment spreads as desired along with a bag of potato chips so I won’t go into all that); cold cuts, basically bologna and cheese, maybe a little salami, no way, no way in hell am I putting dough up for what ma prepared and I had for lunch whenever I couldn’t put two nickels together to get the school lunch, and the school lunch I already described as causing me to run to Tonio’s for a sweet reason portion of pizza by the slice just to kill the taste, no way is right; tuna fish, no way again for a different reason though, a Roman Catholic Friday holy, holy tuna fish reason besides grandma, high Roman Catholic saint grandma, had that tuna fish salad with a splash of mayo on oatmeal bread thing down to a science, ya, grandma no way I would betray you like that; roast beef, what are you kidding; meatballs (in that grand pizza sauce); sausage, with or without green peppers, steak and cheese and so on. The sign, in all it beatified Tonio misspelled glory. 

“Okay,” I said, that sign part seemed reasonable under the circumstances (that’s how Frankie put it, I’m just repeating his rationalization), except that never having made such a bet before I asked to witness a few Tonio flips first. “Deal,” said Frankie. Now my idea here, and I hope you follow me on this because it is not every day that you get to know how my mind works, or how it works different from star king Frankie, but it is not every day that you hear about a proposition based on high or low pizza tosses and there may be something of an art to it that I, or you, were not aware of. See, I am thinking, as many times as I have watched old saintly Tonio, just like everybody else, flip that dough to the heavens I never really thought about where it was heading, except those rare occasions when one hit the ceiling and stuck there. So maybe there is some kind of regular pattern to the thing. Like I say, I had seen Tonio flip dough more than my fair share of teenage life pizzas but, you know, never really noticed anything about it, kind of like the weather. As it turned out there was apparently no rhyme or reason to Tonio’s tosses just the quantity (that was the secret to that good pizza crust, not the height of the throw), so after a few minutes I said "Bet." And bet is, high or low, my call, for a quarter a call (I have visions of filling that old jukebox with my “winnings” because a new Dylan song just came in that I am crazy to play about a zillion times, Mr. Tambourine Man). We are off.

I admit that I did pretty well for while that night and maybe was up a buck, and some change, at the end of the night. Frankie paid up, as Frankie always paid up, and such pay up without a squawk was a point of honor between us (and not just Frankie and me either, every righteous guy was the same way, or else), cash left on the table. I was feeling pretty good ‘cause I just beat the king of the hill at something, and that something was his own game. I rested comfortable on my laurels. Rested comfortably that is until a couple of nights later when we, as usual, were sitting in the Frankie-reserved seats (reserved that is unless there were real paying customers who wanted to eat their pizza in-house and then we, more or less, were given the bum’s rush) when Frankie said “Bet.” And the minute he said that I knew, I knew for certain, that we are once again betting on pizza tosses because when it came right down to it I knew, and I knew for certain, that Frankie’s defeat a few nights before did not sit well with him.

Now here is where things got tricky, though. Tonio, good old good luck charm Tonio, was nowhere in sight. He didn’t work every night and he was probably with his honey, and for an older dame she was a honey, dark hair, good shape, great, dark laughing eyes, and a melting smile. I could see, even then, where her charms beat out, even for ace pizza flinger Tonio, tossing foolish old pizza dough in the air for some kids with time on their hands, no dough, teenage boys, Irish teenage boys to boot. However, Sammy, North Adamsville High Class of ’62 (maybe, at least that is when he was suppose to graduate, according to Frankie, one of whose older brothers graduated that year), and Tonio’s pizza protégé is on duty. Since we already know the ropes on this thing I didn’t even bother to check and see if Sammy’s style was different from Tonio’s. Heck, it was all random, right?

This night we flipped for first call. Frankie won the coin toss. Not a good sign, maybe. I, however, like the previous time, started out quickly with a good run and began to believe that, like at Skeet ball (some call it Skee-ball but they are both the same–roll balls up a targeted area to win Kewpie dolls, feathery things, or a goof key chain for your sweetie) down at the amusement park, I had a knack for this. Anyway I was ahead about a buck or so. All of a sudden my “luck” went south. Without boring you with the epic pizza toss details I could not hit one right for the rest of the night. The long and short of it was that I was down about four dollars, cash on the table. Now Frankie’s cash on the table. No question. At that moment I was feeling about three feet tall and about eight feet under because nowadays cheap, no meaning four dollars, then was date money, Lucinda, fading Lucinda, date money. This was probably fatal, although strictly speaking that is another story and I will not get into the Lucinda details, because when I think about it now that was just a passing thing, and you know about passing things- what about it.

What is part of the story though, and the now still temperature-rising part of the story, is how Frankie, Frankie, king of the pizza parlor night, Frankie of a bunch of kindnesses, and of a bunch of treacheries, here treachery, zonked me on this betting scandal. What I didn’t know then was that I was set up, set up hard and fast, with no remorse by one Francis Xavier Riley, to the tenements, the cold-water flat tenements, born and his cohort Sammy. It seems that Sammy owed Frankie for something, something never fully disclosed by either party, and the pay-off by Sammy to make him well was to “fix” the pizza tosses that night I just told you about, the night of the golden fleecing. Every time I said "high" Sammy, taking his coded signal from Frankie, went low and so forth. Can you believe a “king”, even a king of a backwater pizza parlor, would stoop so low?

Here is the really heinous part though, and keep my previous reference to fading Lucinda in mind when you read this. Frankie, sore-loser Frankie, not only didn’t like to lose but was also low on dough (a constant problem for both of us, and which consumed far more than enough of our time and energy than was necessary in a just, Frankie-friendly world) for his big Saturday night drive-in movie-car borrowed from his older brother, big-man-around- town date with one of his side sweeties (Joanne, his regular sweetie was out of town with her parents on vacation). That part, that unfaithful to Joanne part I didn’t care about because, once again truth to tell, old ever lovin’ sweetie Joanne and I did not get along for more reasons than you have to know. The part that burned me, and still burns me, is that I was naturally the fall-guy for some frail (girl in pizza parlor parlance time) caper he was off on. Now I have mentioned that when we totaled up the score the Frankie kindnesses were way ahead of the Frankie treacheries, no question, which was why we were friends. Still, right this minute, right this 2010 minute, I’m ready to go up to his swanky downtown law office (where the men’s bathroom is larger than his whole youth time old cold- water flat tenement) and demand that four dollars back, plus interest. You know I am right on this one.

From The Lenin Internet Archives- Lenin And The Fight Against Imperialist War (1914-1917)-Opportunism and the Collapse of the Second International[(1916)

Markin comment:

It would seem almost unnecessary to comment on Lenin’s Bolshevik positions on imperialist war, as exemplified by his analysis of the war that he actually had to fight against, World War I. Those positions reflected his understanding that with that war the nature of capitalism had changed, definitively, from a progressive step for humankind to just a squalid, never-ending struggle among “thieves” for control of the world’s resources. It would have seemed almost unnecessary to mention this, that is, for earlier leftist generations who were familiar with his various slogans centrally-“the main enemy is at home” (adapted from German revolutionary Karl Liebknecht-“not one penny, not one man for the imperialist war”- “turn the guns the other way” (toward your own rulers)-and, specific to Bolsheviks- “fight for a new workers international, the Third International” (to replace bankrupt Second International).

Now, especially after the past several anti-war rallies that I have attended, I am not sure who among the attendees is familiar with his work. With all the pacifist, stop war in general, peace now, let all men and women be brothers and sisters rhetoric ringing in my ears I have to assume not. More importantly, I do not see such slogans (or anything close to them) emblazoned on any banners lately. Thus, in a month when we of the international communist movement honor Lenin anyway (along with the aforementioned Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, the Rose of the revolution) this series will try to familiarize those who seek a better struggle against imperialist war than is being presented now with “red” anti-war positions.
V. I. Lenin
Opportunism and the Collapse of the Second International[7]

Published: First published in Russian in 1929 in the second and third editions of Lenin’s Collected Works, Vol. XIX. Published in January 1916 in Vorbote No. 1. Translated from the German. N Lenin. Published according to the text in Vorbote.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, UNKNOWN, [19xx], Moscow, Volume 22, pages 108-120.
Transcription\Markup: B. Baggins and D. Walters
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive Workers’ Web ASCII Pamphlet project, 1997 (2005). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
Other Formats: Text • README

Has the Second International really ceased to exist? This is being stubbornly denied by its most authoritative representatives, like Kautsky and Vandervelde. Their point of view is that, save for the rupture of relations, nothing has really happened; all is quite well.

To get at the truth of the matter, let is turn to the Manifesto of the Basle Congress of 1912, which applies particularly to the present imperialist world war and which was accepted by all the socialist parties of the world. No socialist, be it noted, will dare in theory deny the necessity of making a concrete, historical appraisal of every war.

Now that war has broken out, neither the avowed opportunists nor the Kautskyites dare repudiate the Basle Manifesto or compare its demands with the conduct of the socialist parties during the war. Why? Because the Manifesto completely exposes both.

There is not a single word in the Basle Manifesto about the defence of the fatherland, or about the difference between a war of aggression and a war of defence; there is nothing in it at all about what the opportunists and Kautskyites[1] of Germany and of the Quadruple Alliance[8] at all crossroads are now dinning into the ears of the world. Nor could it have said anything of the sort, because what it does say absolutely rules out the use of such concepts. It makes a highly concrete reference to the series of political and economic conflicts which had for decades been preparing the ground for the present war, had become quite apparent in 1912, and which brought about the war In 1914. The Manifesto recalls the Russo-Austrian conflict for “hegemony in the Balkans”; the conflicts between Britain, France and Germany (between all these countries!) over their “policy of conquest in Asia Minor”; the Austro-Italian conflict over the “striving for domination” in Albania, etc. In short, the Manifesto defines all these as conflicts emanating from “capitalist imperialism”. Thus, the Manifesto very clearly recognises the predatory, imperialist, reactionary, slave-driving character of the present war, i.e., a character which makes the idea of defending the fatherland theoretical nonsense and a practical absurdity. The big sharks are fighting each other to gobble up other peoples’ “fatherlands”. The Manifesto draws the inevitable conclusions from undisputed historical facts: the war “cannot be justified on the slightest pretext of its being in the interest of the people”; it is being prepared “for the sake of the capitalists’ profits and the ambitions of dynasties”. It would be a “crime” for the workers to “shoot each other down”. That is what the Manifesto says.

The epoch of capitalist imperialism is one of ripe and rotten-ripe capitalism, which is about to collapse, and which is mature enough to make way for socialism. The period between 1789 and 1871 was one of progressive capitalism when the overthrow of feudalism and absolutism, and liberation from the foreign yoke were on history’s agenda. “Defence of the fatherland”, i.e., defence against oppression, was permissible on these grounds, and on these alone. The term would be applicable even now in a war against the imperialist Great Powers, but it would be absurd to apply it to a war between the imperialist Great Powers, a war to decide who gets the biggest piece of the Balkan countries, Asia Minor, etc. It is not surprising, therefore, that the “socialists” who advocate “defence of the fatherland” in the present war shun the Basle Manifesto as a thief shuns the scene of his crime. For the Manifesto proves them to be social-chauvinists, i.e., socialists in words, but chauvinists in deeds, who are helping “their own” bourgeoisie to rob other countries and enslave other nations. That is the very substance of chauvinism—to defend one’s “own” fatherland even when its acts are aimed at enslaving other peoples’ fatherlands.

Recognition that a war is being fought for national liberation implies one set of tactics; its recognition as an imperialist war, another. The Manifesto clearly points to the latter. The war, it says, “will bring on an economic and political crisis”, which must be “utilised”, not to lessen the crisis, not to defend the fatherland, but, on the contrary, to “rouse” the masses and “hasten the downfall of capitalist rule”. It is impossible to hasten something for which historical conditions are not yet mature. The Manifesto declares that social revolution is possible, that the conditions for it have matured, and that it will break out precisely in connection with war. Referring to the examples of the Paris Commune and the Revolution of 1905 in Russia, i.e., examples of mass strikes and of civil war, the Manifesto declares that “the ruling classes” fear “a proletarian revolution”. It is sheer falsehood to claim, as Kautsky does, that the socialist attitude to the present war has not been defined. This question was not merely discussed, but decided in Basle, where the tactics of revolutionary proletarian mass struggle were recognised.

It is downright hypocrisy to ignore the Basle Manifesto altogether, or in its most essential parts, and to quote instead the speeches of leaders, or the resolutions of various parties, which, in the first place, antedate the Basle Congress, secondly, were not decisions adopted by the parties of the whole world, and thirdly, applied to various possible wars, but never to the present war. The point is that the epoch of national wars between the big European powers has been superseded by an epoch of imperialist wars between them, and that the Basle Manifesto had to recognise this fact officially for the first time.

It would be a mistake to regard the Basle Manifesto as an empty threat, a collection of platitudes, as so much hot air. Those whom the Manifesto exposes would like to have it that way. But it is not true. The Manifesto is but the fruit of the great propaganda work carried on throughout the entire epoch of the Second International; it is but the summary of all that the socialists had disseminated among the masses in the hundreds of thousands of speeches, articles and manifestos in all languages. It merely reiterates what Jules Guesde, for example, wrote in 1899, when he castigated socialist ministerialism in the event of war: he wrote of war provoked by the “capitalist pirates” (En Garde!, p. 175); it merely repeats what Kautsky wrote in 1909 in his Road to Power, where he admitted that the “peaceful” epoch was over and that the epoch of wars and revolutions was on. To represent the Basle Manifesto as so much talk, or as a mistake, is to regard as mere talk, or as a mistake, everything the socialists have done in the last twenty-five years. The opportunists and the Kautskyites find the contradiction between the Manifesto and its non-application so intolerable because it lays bare the profound contradictions in the work of the Second International. The relatively “peaceful” character of the period between 1871 and 1914 served to foster opportunism first as a mood, then as a trend, until finally it formed a group or stratum among the labour bureaucracy and petty-bourgeois fellow-travellers. These elements were able to gain control of the labour movement only by paying lip-service to revolutionary aims and revolutionary tactics. They were able to win the confidence of the masses only by their protestations that all this “peaceful” work served to prepare the proletarian revolution. This contradiction was a boil which just had to burst, and burst it has. Here is the question: is it worth trying, as Kautsky and Co. are doing, to force the pus back into the body for the sake of “unity” (with the pus), or should the pus be removed as quickly and as thoroughly as possible, regardless of the pang of pain caused by the process, to help bring about the complete recovery of the body of the labour movement?

Those who voted for war credits, entered cabinets amid advocated defence of the fatherland in 1914-15 have patently betrayed socialism. Only hypocrites will deny it. This betrayal must be explained.

It would be absurd to regard the whole question as one of personalities. What has opportunism to do with it when men like Plekhanov and Guesde, etc.?—asks Kautsky (Die Neue Zeit, May 28, 1915). What has opportunism to do with it when Kautsky, etc.?—replies Axelrod on behalf of the opportunists of the Quadruple Alliance (Die Krise der Sozialdemokratie, Zurich, 1915, p. 21). This is a complete farce. If the crisis of the whole movement is to be explained, an examination must be made, firstly, of the economic significance of the present policy; secondly, its underlying ideas; and thirdly, its connection with the history of the various trends in the socialist movement.

What is the economic substance of defencism in the war of 1914-15? The bourgeoisie of all the big powers are waging the war to divide and exploit the world, and oppress other nations. A few crumbs of the bourgeoisie’s huge profits may come the way of the small group of labour bureaucrats, labour aristocrats, and petty-bourgeois fellow-travellers. Social-chauvinism and opportunism have the same class basis, namely, the alliance of a small section of privileged workers with “their” national bourgeoisie against the working-class masses; the alliance between the lackeys of the bourgeoisie and the bourgeoisie against the class the latter is exploiting.

Opportunism and social-chauvinism have the same political content, namely, class collaboration, repudiation of the dictatorship of the proletariat, repudiation of revolutionary action, unconditional acceptance of bourgeois legality, confidence in the bourgeoisie and lack of confidence in the proletariat. Social-chauvinism is the direct continuation and consummation of British liberal-labour politics, of Millerandism and Bernsteinism.[9]

The struggle between the two main trends in the labour movement - revolutionary socialism and opportunist socialism—fills the entire period from 1889 to 1914. Even today there are two main trends on the attitude to war in every country. Let us drop the bourgeois and opportunist habit of referring to personalities. Let us take the trends in a number of countries. Let us take ten European countries: Germany, Britain, Russia, Italy, Holland, Sweden, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Belgium and France. In the first eight the division into opportunist and revolutionary trends corresponds to the division into social-chauvinists and internationalists. In Germany the strongholds of social-chauvinism are Sozialistische = Monatshefte[10] and Legien and Co.; in Britain the Fabians[11] and the Labour Party [12] (the I.L.P.[13] has always been allied with them and has supported their organ, and in this bloc it has always been weaker than the social-chauvinists, whereas three-sevenths of the B.S.P.[14] are internationalists); in Russia this trend is represented by Nasha Zarya[15] (now Nashe Dyelo), by the Organising = Committee,[16] and by the Duma group led by Chkheidze; in Italy it is represented by the reformists with Bissolati at their head; in Holland, by Troelstra’s party; in Sweden, by the majority of the Party led by Branting; in Bulgaria, by the so-called “Shiroki”[17] socialists; in Switzerland by Greulich and Co. In all these countries it is the revolutionary Social-Democrats who have voiced a more or less vigorous protest against social-chauvinism. France and Belgium are the two exceptions; there internationalism also exists, but is very weak.

Social-chauvinism is opportunism in its finished form. It is quite ripe for an open, frequently vulgar, alliance with the bourgeoisie and the general staffs. It is this alliance that gives it great power and a monopoly of the legal press and of deceiving the masses. It is absurd to go on regarding opportunism as an inner-party phenomenon. It is ridiculous to think of carrying out the Basle resolution together with David, Legien, Hyndman, Plekhanov and Webb. Unity with the social-chauvinists means unity with one’s “own” national bourgeoisie, which exploits other nations; it means splitting the international proletariat. This does not mean that an immediate break with the opportunists is possible everywhere; it means only that historically this break is imminent; that it is necessary and inevitable for the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat; that history, which has led us from “peaceful” capitalism to imperialist capitalism, has paved the way for this break. Volentem ducunt fata, nolentem trahunt.[2]

This is very well understood by the shrewd representatives of the bourgeoisie. That is why they are so lavish in their praise of the present socialist parties, headed by the “defenders of the fatherland”, i.e., the defenders of imperialist plunder. That is why the social-chauvinist leaders are rewarded by their governments either with ministerial posts (in France and Britain), or with a monopoly of unhindered legal existence (in Germany and Russia). That is why in Germany, where the Social-Democratic Party was strongest and where its transformation into a national-liberal counter-revolutionary labour party has been most obvious, things have got to the stage where the public prosecutor qualifies the struggle between the “minority” and the “majority” as “incitement to class hatred”! That is why the greatest concern of the clever opportunists is to retain the former “unity” of the old parties, which did the bourgeoisie so many good turns in 1914 and 1915. The views held by these opportunists in all countries of the world were expounded with commendable frankness by a German Social-Democrat in an article signed “Monitor” which appeared in April 1915, in the reactionary magazine Preussische = Jahrbücher.[18] Monitor thinks that it would be very dangerous for the bourgeoisie if the Social-Democrats were to move still further to the right. “It must preserve its character as a labour party with socialist ideals; for the day it gives this up a new party will arise and adopt the programme the old party had disavowed, giving it a still more radical formulation” (Preussische Jahrbücher, 1915, No.4, pp.50-51).

Monitor hit the nail on the head. That is just what the British Liberals and the French Radicals have always wanted—phrases with a revolutionary ring to deceive the masses and induce them to place their trust in the Lloyd Georges, the Sembats, the Renaudels, the Legiens, and the Kautskys, in the men capable of preaching “defence of the fatherland” in a predatory war.

But Monitor represents only one variety of opportunism, the frank, crude, cynical variety. Others act with stealth, subtlety, and “honesty”. Engels once said that for the working class “honest” opportunists were the greatest danger.[19] Here is one example.

Kautsky wrote in Die Neue Zeit (November 26, 1915) as follows: “The opposition against the majority is growing; the masses are in an opposition mood.... After the war (only after the war?—N. L.) class antagonisms will become so sharp that radicalism will gain the upper hand among the masses... . After the war (only after the war?—N. L.) we shall be menaced with the desertion of the radical elements from the Party and their influx into the party of anti-parliamentary (?? meaning extra-parliamentary) mass action... Thus, our Party is splitting up into two extreme camps which have nothing in common.” To preserve unity, Kautsky tries to persuade the majority in the Reichstag to allow the minority to make a few radical parliamentary speeches. That means Kautsky wants to use a few radical parliamentary speeches to reconcile the revolutionary masses with the opportunists, who have “nothing in common” with revolution, who have long had the leadership of the trade unions, and now, relying on their close alliance with the bourgeoisie and the government, have also captured the leadership of the Party. What essential difference is there between this and Monitor’s “programme”? There is none, save for the sugary phrases which prostitute Marxism.

At a meeting of the Reichstag group on March 18, 1915, Wurm, a Kautskyite, “warned” against “pulling the strings too taut. There is growing opposition among the workers’ masses to the majority of the group, we must keep to the Marxist [?! probably a misprint: this should read “the Monitor”] Centre” (Klassenkampf gegen den Krieg! Material zum Fall Liebknecht. Als Manuskript gedruckt,[3] p. 67. Thus we find that the revolutionary sentiment of the masses was admitted as a fact on behalf of all the Kautskyites (the so-called Centre) as early as March, 1915!! But eight and a half months later, Kautsky again comes forward with the proposal to “reconcile” the militant masses with the opportunist, counter-revolutionary party—and he wants to do this with a few revolutionary-sounding phrases!!

War is often useful in exposing what is rotten and discarding the conventionalities.

Let us compare the British Fabians with the German Kautskyites. Here is what a real Marxist, Frederick Engels, wrote about the former on January 18, 1893: “...a band of careerists who have understanding enough to realise the inevitability of the social revolution, but who could not possibly entrust this gigantic task to the raw proletariat alone.... Fear of the revolution is their fundamental principle" (Letters to Sorge, p. 390).[20]

And on November 11, 1893, he wrote: “...these haughty bourgeois who kindly condescend to emancipate the proletariat from above if only it would have sense enough to realise that such a raw, uneducated mass cannot liberate itself and can achieve nothing without the kindness of these clever lawyers, writers and sentimental old women” (ibid., p. 401).[21]

In theory Kautsky looks down upon the Fabians with the contempt of a Pharisee for a poor sinner, for he swears by “Marxism”. But what actual difference is there between the two? Both signed the Basle Manifesto, and both treated it as Wilhelm II treated Belgian neutrality. But Marx all his life castigated those who strove to quench the revolutionary spirit of the workers.

Kautsky has put forward his new theory of “ultra-imperialism” in opposition to the revolutionary Marxists. By this he means that the “rivalries of national finance capitals” are to be superseded by the “joint exploitation of the world by international finance capital” (Die Neue Zeit, April 30, 1915). But he adds: “We do not as yet have sufficient data to decide whether this new phase of capitalism is possible.” On the grounds of the mere assumption of a “new phase”, which he does not even dare de-clare definitely “possible”, the inventor of this “phase” rejects his own revolutionary declarations as well as the revolutionary tasks and revolutionary tactics of the proletariat—rejects them now, in the “phase” of a crisis, which has already broken out, the phase of war and the unprecedented aggravation of class antagonisms! Is this not Fabianism at its most abominable?

Axelrod, the leader of the Russian Kautskyites, sees “the centre of gravity of the problem of internationalising the proletarian movement for emancipation in the internationalisation of everyday practice”; for example, “labour protection and insurance legislation must become the object of the workers’ international organisation and action” (Axelrod, The Crisis of Social-Democracy, Zurich, 1915, pp.39-40). Not only Legien, David and the Webbs, but even Lloyd George himself, and Naumann, Briand and Milyukov would quite obviously subscribe to such “internationalism”. As in 1912, Axelrod is quite prepared to utter the most revolutionary phrases for the very distant future, if the future International “comes out [against the governments in the event of war] and raises a revolutionary storm”. How brave we are! But when it comes to supporting and developing the incipient revolutionary ferment among the masses now, Axelrod says that these tactics of revolutionary mass action “would be justified to some extent if we were on the very eve of the social revolution, as was the case in Russia, for example, where the student demonstrations of 1901 heralded the approaching decisive battles against absolutism”. At the present moment, however, all that is “utopia”, “Bakuninism”, etc. This is fully in the spirit of Kolb, David, Suedekum and Legien.

What dear old Axelrod forgets is that in 1901 nobody in Russia knew, or could have known, that the first “decisive battle” would take place four years later—please note, four years later—and that it would be “indecisive”. Nevertheless, we revolutionary Marxists alone were right at that time: we ridiculed the Krichevskys and Martynovs, who called for an immediate assault. We merely advised the workers to kick out the opportunists everywhere and to exert every effort to support, sharpen and extend the demonstrations and other mass revolutionary action. The present situation in Europe is absolutely similar. It would be absurd to call for an “immediate” assault; but it would be a shame to call oneself a Social-Democrat and not to advise the workers to break with the opportunists and exert all their efforts to strengthen, deepen, extend and sharpen the incipient revolutionary movement and demonstrations. Revolution never falls ready-made from the skies, and when revolutionary ferment starts no one can say whether and when it will lead to a “real”, “genuine” revolution. Kautsky and Axelrod are giving the workers old, shop-worn, counter-revolutionary advice. Kautsky and Axelrod are feeding the masses with hopes that the future International will surely be revolutionary, but they are doing this for the sole purpose of protecting, camouflaging and prettifying the present domination of the counter-revolutionary elements—the Legiens, Davids, Vanderveldes and Hyndmans. Is it not obvious that “unity” with Legien and Co. is the best means of preparing the “future” revolutionary International?

“It would be folly to strive to convert the world war into civil war,” declares David, the leader of the German opportunists (Die Sozialdemokratie und der Weltkrieg, 1915, p. 172), in reply to the manifesto of the Central Committee of our Party, November 1, 1914. This manifesto says, inter alia:

“However difficult that transformation may seem at any given moment, socialists will never relinquish systematic, persistent and undeviating preparatory work in this direction now that war has become a fact.”[4]

(This passage is also quoted by David, p. 171.) A month before David’s book appeared our Party published its resolutions defining “systematic preparation” as follows: (1) refusal to vote for credits; (2) disruption of the class truce; (3) formation of illegal organisations; (4) support for solidarity manifestations in the trenches; (5) support for all revolutionary mass action.[5]

David is almost as brave as Axelrod. In 1912, he did not think that reference to the Paris Commune in anticipation of the war was “folly”.

Plekhanov, a typical representative of the Entente social-chauvinists, takes the same view of revolutionary tactics as David. He calls them a “farcical dream”. But listen to Kolb, an avowed opportunist, who wrote: “The consequence of the tactics of Liebknecht’s followers would be that the struggle within the German nation would be brought up to boiling point” (Die Sozialdemokratie am Scheidewege, p.50).

But what is a struggle brought up to boiling point if not civil war?

If our Central Committee’s tactics, which broadly coincide with those of the Zimmerwald Left,[22] were “folly”, “dreams”, “adventurism”, “Bakuninism”-as David, Plekhanov, Axelrod, Kautsky and others have asserted—they could never lead to a “struggle within a nation”, let alone to a struggle brought up to boiling point. Nowhere in the world have anarchist phrases brought about a struggle within a nation. But the facts indicate that precisely in 1915, as a result of the crisis produced by the war, revolutionary ferment among the masses is on the increase, and there is a spread of strikes and political demonstrations in Russia, strikes in Italy and in Britain, and hunger demonstrations and political demonstrations in Germany. Are these not the beginnings of revolutionary mass struggles?

The sum and substance of Social-Democracy’s practical programme in this war is to support, develop, extend and sharpen mass revolutionary action, and to set up illegal organisations, for without them there is no way of telling the truth to the masses of people even in the “free” countries. The rest is either lies or mere verbiage, whatever its trappings of opportunist or pacifist theory.[6]

When we are told that these “Russian tactics” (David’s expression) are not suitable for Europe, we usually reply by pointing to the facts. On October 30, a delegation of Berlin women comrades called on the Party’s Presidium in Berlin, and stated that “now that we have a large organising apparatus it is much easier to distribute illegal pamphlets and leaflets and to organise ‘banned meetings’ than it was under the Anti-Socialist Law.... Ways and means are not lacking, but the will evidently is” (Berner = Tagwacht,[23] 1915, No.271).

Had these bad comrades been led astray by the Russian “sectarians”, etc.? Is it these comrades who represent the real masses, or is it Legien and Kautsky? Legien, who in his report on January 27, 1915, fumed against the “anarchistic” idea of forming underground organisations; or Kautsky, who has become such a counter-revolutionary that on November 26, four days before the 10,000-strong demonstration in Berlin, he denounced street demonstrations as “adventurism”!

We’ve had enough of empty talk, and of prostituted “Marxism” à la Kautsky! After twenty-five years of the Second International, after the Basle Manifesto, the workers will no longer believe fine words. Opportunism is rotten-ripe; it has been transformed into social-chauvinism and has definitely deserted to the bourgeois camp. It has severed its spiritual and political ties with Social-Democracy. It will also break off its organisational ties. The workers are already demanding “illegal” pamphlets and “banned” meetings, i.e., underground organisations to support the revolutionary mass movement. Only when “war against war” is conducted on these lines does it cease to be empty talk and becomes Social-Democratic work. In spite of all difficulties, setbacks, mistakes, delusions and interruptions, this work will lead humanity to the victorious proletarian revolution.

[1] This does not refer to the personalities of Kautsky’s followers in Germany, but to the international type of pseudo-Marxist who vacillates between opportunism and radicalism, but is in reality only a fig-leaf for opportunism. —Lenin

[2] The Fates lead the willing, drag the unwilling.—Ed.

[3] The Class Struggle Against the War. Material on the Liebknecht Case. Printed for private circulation only.—Ed.

[4] See present edition, Vol, 21, “The War and Russian Social-Democracy”.—Ed.

[5] Ibid., Vol. 21, “The Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. Groups Abroad”.—Ed.

[6] At the International Women’s Congress held in Berne in March 1915, the representatives of the Central Committee of our Party urged that it was absolutely necessary to set up illegal organisations. This was rejected. The British women laughed at this proposal and praised British “liberty”. But a few months later British newspapers, like the Labour = Leader,[24] reached us with blank spaces, and then came the news of police raids, confiscation of pamphlets, arrests, and Draconian sentences imposed on comrades who had spoken in Britain about peace, nothing but peace! —Lenin

[7] The article was written by Lenin in German and published in January 1916 in the first issue of the theoretical organ of the Zimmerwald Left, the magazine Vorbote (Herald ). Earlier, Lenin had written an article in Russian under the same title; it was first published in the magazine Proletarskaya Revolutsia (Proletarian Revolution ) No. 5 (28) in 1924, and is included in Volume 21 of Lenin’s Collected Works (LCW), where the text is not quite identical with the one in Vorbote..

Thursday, January 20, 2011

From The Archives Of The Spartacist League (U.S.)-Yugoslavia, East Europe and the Fourth International:The Evolution of Pabloist Liquidationism-Documents

Markin comment:

In October 2010 I started what I anticipate will be an on-going series, From The Archives Of The Socialist Workers Party (America), starting date October 2, 2010, where I will place documents from, and make comments on, various aspects of the early days of the James P. Cannon-led Socialist Worker Party in America. As I noted in the introduction to that series Marxism, no less than other political traditions, and perhaps more than most, places great emphasis on roots, the building blocks of current society and its political organizations. Nowhere is the notion of roots more prevalent in the Marxist movement that in the tracing of organizational and political links back to the founders, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the Communist Manifesto, and the Communist League.

After mentioning the thread of international linkage through various organizations from the First to the Fourth International I also noted that on the national terrain in the Trotskyist movement, and here I was speaking of America where the Marxist roots are much more attenuated than elsewhere, we look to Daniel DeLeon’s Socialist Labor League, Eugene V. Debs' Socialist Party( mainly its left-wing, not its socialism for dentists wing), the Wobblies (IWW, Industrial Workers Of The World), the early Bolshevik-influenced Communist Party and the various formations that led up to the Socialist Workers Party, the section that Leon Trotsky’s relied on most while he was alive. Further, I noted that beyond the SWP that there were several directions to go in but that those earlier lines were the bedrock of revolutionary Marxist continuity, at least through the 1960s.

I am continuing today  what I also anticipate will be an on-going series about one of those strands past the 1960s when the SWP lost it revolutionary appetite, what was then the Revolutionary Tendency (RT) and what is now the Spartacist League (SL/U.S.), the U.S. section of the International Communist League (ICL). I intend to post materials from other strands but there are several reasons for starting with the SL/U.S. A main one, as the document below will make clear, is that the origin core of that organization fought, unsuccessfully in the end, to struggle from the inside (an important point) to turn the SWP back on a revolutionary course, as they saw it. Moreover, a number of the other organizations that I will cover later trace their origins to the SL, including the very helpful source for posting this material, the International Bolshevik Tendency.

However as I noted in posting a document from Spartacist, the theoretical journal of ICL posted via the International Bolshevik Tendency website that is not the main reason I am starting with the SL/U.S. Although I am not a political supporter of either organization in the accepted Leninist sense of that term, more often than not, and at times and on certain questions very much more often than not, my own political views and those of the International Communist League coincide. I am also, and I make no bones about it, a fervent supporter of the Partisan Defense Committee, a social and legal defense organization linked to the ICL and committed, in the traditions of the IWW, the early International Labor Defense-legal defense arm of the Communist International, and the early defense work of the American Socialist Workers Party, to the struggles for freedom of all class-war prisoners and defense of other related social struggles.
Markin comment on this article:

As has been detailed in other pieces in this space about the fate of the cadre of the Fourth International, including the leading figure, Leon Trotsky, assassinated by a Stalinist agent in Mexico in 1940, that organization was decimated by various forces by the end of World War II and left it without strong theoretical leadership the post-war period. Not strong enough at a time when the seemingly improbable situation developed where non-Leninist (in the early Bolshevik sense) parties were leading overturns of capitalist regimes from Eastern Europe to Asia. This inability to sift through the historic facts was most forcefully felt in the immediate case of Yugoslavia. But, frankly, the post- World War II methodological problems still haunt those of us who stand on the history of the Fourth International, mainly today around the question of whether China is capitalist or not. That makes this pamphlet worthwhile reading to order to try to sort that problem out.

Circular to the Leadership of All Sections
30 June 1948


Written: 1948
Source: Prometheus Research Library, Prometheus Research Series No. 4, New York, 1993
Transcription/Markup/Proofing: John Heckman.
Public Domain: Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line 2007/Prometheus Research Library. You can freely copy, display and otherwise distribute this work. Please credit the Marxists Internet Archive & Prometheus Research Library as your source, include the url to this work, and note the transcribers & editors above.


The following unsigned circular was issued by the International Secretariat of the Fourth International. The original is in the archives of Natalia Sedova Trotsky at the Trotsky Museum in Coyoacán, Mexico; a photocopy is in the collection of the Prometheus Research Library.

June 30, 1948

Circular No. 16
To the Leadership of All Sections


The Tito affair has an exceptional importance from two points of view: externally for our attitude to Stalinist workers in particular and to revolutionary workers in general, and the conclusions that we can draw in regard to our appreciation of the USSR and Stalinism.

It goes without saying that the leaderships of all sections will have understood immediately the importance of the events and the necessity of taking the initiative in this respect. However, the I.S. thinks it necessary to make known its point of view in order to facilitate prompt and coordinated action of the whole International.

Significance of the Conflict
The resolution of the Cominform and the reply of the Central Committee of the Yugoslav Communist Party clearly show that the origin of the conflict lies in the attempt of the Kremlin to strangle completely the latter and the Tito government.

GPU agents endeavoured to create a tendency inside the Yugoslav CP to “Russify” it completely, to undermine the personal prestige of Tito and to get rid of him. The Kremlin, estimating that in Yugoslavia it did not possess an absolutely docile instrument, and fearing an independent role on the part of Tito, however limited, attacked him by mobilising at the same time its direct agents in Yugoslavia and the prestige of the Russian Communist Party and the Cominform against the Yugoslav Communists; it attempted to create a faction of its own in the Yugoslav CP capable of overthrowing them.

This is an example of the extreme rigidity of the Stalinist bureaucratic machine, incompatible with the least opposition and which, driven by its own internal logic, is forced to nip in the bud the slightest sign of independence, in order to safeguard its prestige as well as its apparent unity and stability. But the attempt of the Kremlin in Yugoslavia misfired for a whole series of reasons. Tito and the leadership of the CP were strongly entrenched in a movement and a party which they had led during the last few years of struggle under the occupation and immediately after, without the direct support of the Kremlin, and of which they have been considered as the natural leaders. They have constructed on the other hand a strong state apparatus, which inspires them with a different assurance from that which formerly characterised various attempts at opposition in the Communist parties of the capitalist countries in the face of the all-powerful Kremlin. Yugoslavia is the only country of the glacis where the government had not been imposed by the entry of the Red Army and the Soviet occupation, but which had been brought to power by the revolutionary movement of the masses.

Tito personally is a bureaucrat to the hilt; past master in the bureaucratic and GPU Kremlin machine he served for several years and which he has known how to stand up to energetically in his own country.

The resistance of Tito has probably surprised and exasperated Stalin. Before the failure of his attempt, Stalin could either try to secure the unconditional submission of Tito, or eliminate him through the action of his agents in Yugoslavia. Stalin has preferred the former course despite all the inconveniences of mobilising his international machine and openly excommunicating Tito.

We shall see in the days and weeks to come on what supplementary trump cards Stalin has in the long run based his decision, and what will be the breadth of Tito’s resistance.

The Cominform Resolution and the Yugoslav Reply
The charge sheet of the Cominform against Tito is a typical product of the Kremlin machine of lies, calumnies, and amalgams. Tito is accused at the same time of “nationalism,” “Trotskyism,” “Bukharinism,” of basing himself on the kulaks and wishing to destroy the kulaks, etc.... This document is conceived in order to drown the facts of the case in an ocean of assertions, in appearance “Marxist-Leninist,” contradictory and confused, which allows anyone in Stalinist world public opinion or in Yugoslavia to find reasons to criticise and condemn Tito. The reply of the Yugoslav party enables us, naturally without solidarising with it or with Tito, to attack the resolution of the Cominform and the attitude taken by the different Communist parties, who have rushed to align themselves completely with the resolution, without even knowing Tito’s reply and without even publishing in their press an objective résumé of that reply.

The reply of the Yugoslav party shows in effect that its case has been judged by the leaderships of the various Communist parties and the Cominform on the basis of unilateral accusations brought against it by the Russian Communist Party and without it even being able to make known its point of view. Our organisations, in their press, and by special leaflets addressed to the Stalinist workers and to revolutionary workers in general, should underline the enormous proof, afforded by this action of the Kremlin, of the monstrously bureaucratic character of Stalinism. Between one day and the next, a whole party, standing at the head of a country considered to be the vanguard of all glacis countries, was condemned solely on the basis of unilateral accusations, without the contrary point of view of the accused party ever having been discussed by the militants of the Stalinist organisations.

This enables us to make clear before the masses the whole nature of Stalinism and to recall examples from the past, the accusations brought against Trotskyism, the Moscow Trials, etc....

Activities Towards the Yugoslavs
The International Secretariat is preparing a document addressed to the Yugoslav Communist Party which it will try to send to Yugoslavia and circulate amongst the Communist workers of Yugoslavia. We ask all sections, when they receive the text, to transmit it by delegations to Yugoslav consulates and embassies asking them to forward it to the CC of the Yugoslav CP. On the other hand, we ask all sections to let us know immediately any contacts or any means which will permit an intervention on the part of the International in Yugoslavia, and to send by these means their own publications on this subject.

Conclusions on the USSR and Stalinism
The Tito affair permits us to draw important conclusions on the following points:

a) Concerning the stability of the Stalinist bureaucracy;

b) Concerning the question of the extension of Stalinism in the world without rifts, and the revisionist theory of “bureaucratic collectivism”;

c) Concerning the nature of the glacis countries.

The Tito affair shows that the extreme rigidity of the Stalinist bureaucratic machine will have considerable difficulty in incorporating in its complicated and contradictory movements, without cracks, fissures and grave crises, the glacis countries as a bloc, each component part of which has been submitted to a whole series of different economic, historical and political conditions.

Stalinism is not a product that is capable of universal export and in proportion to its expansion its internal contradictions, far from disappearing, become more violent and explosive. The attempted assimilation of the glacis by Stalinism can well produce centrifugal forces in the international Stalinist edifice and even in the USSR itself.

In the Stalin-Tito controversy the Stalinists themselves put their finger on the capitalist nature of the structure of these countries in alleging that the regime of private property in agricultural production, commerce and petty enterprises, that is to say in the essential domain of the whole economy in these countries, where petty individual exploitation constantly engenders capitalism.

Where Is Tito Going?
We should follow with great interest but also with caution the evolution of the Moscow-Belgrade conflict.

The reply of the Yugoslav party indicates that Tito is not ready to capitulate and his reconciliation with the Kremlin remains problematical, if not impossible, after such a passage at arms.

There remain consequently three possibilities:

a) That Tito will be overthrown by the revolt of the Stalinist wing of the Yugoslav party, which does not appear in any case to be very important.

b) That he will maintain his present like of independence, which poses necessarily a more radical rupture with the Kremlin and the Stalinists.

c) That he will go over to American imperialism and the bloc of western democracies. But this last eventuality seems in any case only capable of realisation after a long evolution, his present base having been established on socialist ideas and anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist struggles. Above all the most important point for us is not the personal case of Tito, a bureaucrat of the old stock with bonapartist ambitions and tendencies, but the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, the proletariat and poor peasantry placed by the conflict with Moscow in a favourable situation to advance in the path of a more radical rupture with Stalinism.

It is in this direction that the International should act.

The International Secretariat

An Open Letter to the Communist Party of Yugoslavia


Written: 1948
Source: Prometheus Research Library, Prometheus Research Series No. 4, New York, 1993
Transcription/Markup/Proofing: John Heckman.
Public Domain: Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line 200/Prometheus Research Library. You can freely copy, display and otherwise distribute this work. Please credit the Marxists Internet Archive & Prometheus Research Library as your source, include the url to this work, and note the transcribers & editors above.


The following letter by the International Secretariat of the Fourth International was published in the newspaper of the American Socialist Workers Party, the Militant, 26 July 1948.

July 1, 1948

To the Central Committee and to All Members of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia


We want to let you know that the attention of the entire international revolutionary workers’ movement is today centered on the conflict in which you have, for some time, been pitted against the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party and the Cominform.

The official press of the Communist parties is seeking to engulf you in a flood of slanders and insults. Their conduct is a good example of how proletarian democracy is dragged in the mud by these people who operate from Moscow the entire international machine which is at the service of the Soviet bureaucracy.

But we are not in the least duped by this system of slander campaigns which has in the past destroyed so many precious forces in the labor movement. Because under the worst difficulties, we have never ceased for one moment, ever since Lenin died, to continue his struggle in Russia and in the entire world for the world communist revolution, against capitalist and imperialist reaction, and against the Soviet bureaucracy which usurped Lenin’s party and the whole Communist International.

We know with what sinister inflexibility the bureaucratic machine in Moscow tries to nip in the bud every aspiration of independence or even a sign of a critical attitude toward itself. This Soviet bureaucracy has nothing in common with the Bolshevism of Lenin and the genuine defense of what still remains of the October conquests in the Soviet Union. The struggle—which has, since 1927, destroyed in Russia the entire Old Guard of the Bolshevik Party of the days of the October Revolution—was led by the Thermidorians of the Russian Revolution, who were able temporarily to triumph over the proletarian revolutionary wing of Russian Bolshevism.

Now you are in a position to understand, in the light of the infamous campaign of which you are the victims, the real meaning of the Moscow Trials and of the whole Stalinist struggle against Trotskyism.

You hold in your hands a mighty power if only you summon enough strength to persevere on the road of the socialist revolution and its program. This road is also the road of independence from the bureaucratic apparatus of Moscow. Looking for a way out are tremendous forces in the entire world labor movement—now caught in a vise between imperialism led from Washington on the one side, and on the other, the Soviet bureaucracy in the Kremlin, interested solely in keeping its own privileged caste interests in Russia.

Keep up your fight! Deepen the significance of your struggle with Moscow and its international machine! Do not yield to imperialist pressures! Establish a regime of genuine workers’ democracy in your party and in your country! Thereby you will contribute immensely to the rebirth of the international workers’ movement.

The International Secretariat of the Fourth International, the organization which unites around its program of Bolshevism and Leninism 35 sections on the five continents, wants to address itself in this our first message to you not concerning those things about which we must be critical of you with regards to your past and more recent course. We wish rather to take note of the promise in your resistance—the promise of victorious resistance by a revolutionary workers’ party against the most monstrous bureaucratic machine that has ever existed in the labor movement, the Kremlin machine.

We shall presently address to you and to your Congress and to all Yugoslav Communists an open letter in which we shall treat in detail our point of view on the historic meaning of your conflict with Moscow and its Cominform.

Long Live the Yugoslav Socialist Revolution! Long Live the Proletarian World Revolution!

International Secretariat of the Fourth International
An Open Letter
To the Congress, Central Committee and Members of the

Yugoslav Communist Party


Written: 1948
Source: Prometheus Research Library, Prometheus Research Series No. 4, New York, 1993
Transcription/Markup/Proofing: John Heckman.
Public Domain: Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line 2007/Prometheus Research Library. You can freely copy, display and otherwise distribute this work. Please credit the Marxists Internet Archive & Prometheus Research Library as your source, include the url to this work, and note the transcribers & editors above.


This text of the 13 July 1948 Open Letter from the International Secretariat to the Yugoslav Communist Party corresponds to the English version published in the American Socialist Workers Party’s Fourth International, August 1948. In addition to minor spelling revisions, the first of the two slogans which conclude the letter has been retranslated from the French original.[1] (The Fourth International version read: “Yugoslav Communists Unite for a New Leninist International!”)


At its last session the Cominform passed a resolution excommunicating your party and its leadership. This has deeply stirred the members of Communist parties and revolutionary workers throughout the world. How, indeed, could they fail to be stupefied by such an abrupt about-face by the Cominform leaders who suddenly compel them to disparage a country which only yesterday was proclaimed the best model of “People’s Democracy.” Only three months ago, l’Humanité, central organ of the French Communist Party, sang praises to the “land of Tito.” Today, l’Humanité cannot find a slander too vile with which to besmirch your party.

Only recently, Enver Hoxha, premier of Albania, declared at the fourth session of the Albanian People’s Assembly:

Our people could neither enjoy the fruits of their war victories nor be assured of reconstructing their country and progress toward a better life, if it were not for the powerful, fraternal assistance accorded us in all spheres of life by the new Yugoslavia.

Today, the same Enver Hoxha cynically says:

The Central Committee of the Yugoslav Communist Party and its chieftain Tito have disrupted all the economic and political relations with our country....They aim to transform it into a colony of Yugoslavia....They have tried to suppress its independence....

The servility with which most of the leadership of the Communist parties have carried out the orders handed down from above is surpassed only by their evident dishonesty. Your party is accused of “lack of democracy.” At the same time your accusers set up a hue and cry in which your party is condemned without the Communist party members having been informed objectively about the existing differences, without affording you an opportunity to defend yourselves, without letting the members of various Communist parties become acquainted with the text of your reply to the Cominform resolution.

The double-dealing of these “leaders” is shown even more clearly by their refusal to accept your invitation to attend your Congress. This refusal means nothing else but that the leaders of the Communist parties refuse to acquaint their members with the real situation in Yugoslavia. They prefer to despicably deceive the Communist workers throughout the world rather than “disobey” an order sent by Russia.

These facts, coupled with the treatment you are receiving, illustrate the methods of “persuasion” used by the leaders of the Russian Communist Party. They intervene in the life of other Communist parties by means of brutal and ultimatistic ukases; they arbitrarily impose their rule on all parties, without the least consideration for the traditions, experiences or sentiments of the respective party members. At the same time, the leaders of the Russian Communist Party jealously guard their own privileges, regarding as treachery the slightest criticism of their own policies, and arrogating to themselves the right to excommunicate anyone who balks at following slavishly the countless zigzags of their tortuous party line.

The evil you have suddenly discovered, however, has existed for a long time. It existed during the final decade of the Communist International as well as during the five years since its dissolution. The grave sickness of the Communist parties and the main cause of the innumerable setbacks and bloody defeats they have suffered are to be found in the absolute control arrogated to themselves by the leaders of the Russian Communist Party. This control has led to a constant subordination of the interests of the socialist revolution, in one country after another, to the episodic needs confronting Russia.

Today the Kremlin is determined to force you to abandon your industrialization policy, just as in January 1945 it forced Thorez to disarm the French partisans for the benefit of de Gaulle. During the Spanish Civil War, when the workers seized the factories, the Kremlin forced the Spanish Communists to declare that this was “treason.” It instructed the German Communist Party to follow the suicidal course from 1930 to 1933 which permitted Hitler to seize power.

But events each time proved that far from rendering the Soviet Union stronger in the face of the imperialist forces, the weakening of the international proletariat isolated the Soviet Union still more and permitted the imperialists to deal terrible blows, such as that of 1941.

Once again today, in order to maintain their absolute sway over the Cominform, the leaders of the Russian Communist Party do not hesitate to employ against your party, policies which play into the hands of American imperialism and which can be utilized by all the enemies of the working class against the Soviet Union itself.

Comrades, you yourselves have already raised the question of the reason for this non-communist conduct of the Russian leadership toward the Communist parties of other countries. In this connection you might indeed have used the term “degeneration” in your reasoning. One should not fear this word, nor its real meaning and content. The outstanding trait of a Bolshevik is his courage in approaching reality and seeing it as it actually is, no matter how bitter the truth, no matter how painful the examination of this reality may be. It is a crime for a communist to deceive the workers or his own comrades—and this happens to be the real crime that the Communist Party leaders of many countries have just committed once again. But it is an even bigger crime to deceive oneself through fear of the sad reality which one does not wish to accept.

It would be the grossest self-deception to assume even for a moment that a country, governed by a party whose conduct toward its sister parties is so utterly non-communist, can nevertheless play the role of the vanguard of socialism. It would be self-deception to assume that policies which led to crises in so many Communist parties can still remain Leninist policies.

Yes, the Soviet Union and the leadership of the Russian Communist Party have degenerated. Yes, they have ceased to represent the vanguard of the world communist forces since the time they subordinated the interests of the world revolution to their own interests. We repeat: They act in their own interests and not those of the Russian proletariat. The interests of the workers and the oppressed of all countries are one and the same, and the interests of communism are indivisible the world over. That is why the abandonment by the Russian leaders of the cause of communism beyond the Soviet frontiers proves beyond doubt that they have abandoned this same cause inside the Soviet Union itself; that is to say, their degeneration is profound.

Causes of the Degeneration of the Soviet Union
However painful it may seem to you, it is now necessary to put your finger on the social origin of this degeneration. In Lenin’s time, and even after, Communist functionaries in both the party and the government strictly adhered to the rule that their salaries could not be higher than the average wage of a skilled worker. Non-Communist specialists and technicians, whom the young Soviet Republic sorely needed, were of necessity paid higher salaries, but they were placed under the strict control of the workers lest they should abuse those advantages which the state had been compelled to grant them. The workers remained the masters in the factories, in the soviets, in the party. Communist discipline was voluntary, arising from the enthusiasm for the class struggle and the victorious revolution. The party’s internal life, along with that of the Communist International at the time, was regulated by discussion, as impassioned as it was free. The most important decisions were reached on the basis of genuine conviction, that is to say, in accord with the experience and level of consciousness of the party members. The party was intimately tied to its class and through these ties brought the entire proletariat into participation in the running of the state and the economy.

Today all this is changed in the Soviet Union. The soviets are dissolved. The workers do not exercise the slightest control in the factories; instead they are completely at the mercy of the factory manager’s every whim. The discrepancies in basic earnings are even greater than in capitalist countries. Communist functionaries collect salaries as high as those of petty-bourgeois spetzes (specialists). An abyss separates the living conditions of the working masses from those of the bureaucracy which runs the economy and the state. This bureaucracy has completely wiped out inner-party democracy; it has eliminated and murdered the Old Guard Bolsheviks; it has converted the party into a vehicle for protecting its own privileges; it has destroyed the party as the instrument of international communism.

This bureaucracy has today become a closed caste which guards its positions as jealously against the workers at home as it is doing against you.

One of your most remarkable accomplishments in Yugoslavia, just as in the October Revolution in Russia, is the extension of free high school and college education to all children of workers and poor peasants. You must be aware of the fact that as far back as eight years ago the Russian government abolished this enormously progressive development and reintroduced the system of paying for high school and college education, thereby in practice restricting such education to the children of functionaries and well-to-do petty bourgeois, and sentencing the overwhelming majority of children to semi-ignorance. Is this not the best proof that the leaders of the Russian state and party have stopped the forward march toward socialism, and in fact have gone into reverse gear toward an ever increasing social inequality?

The existence of these bureaucratic privileges in Russia, far from being combatted by the leaders of the Communist Party of the USSR, is systematically protected; this also explains at the same time the ideological form assumed by the degeneration of this leadership. In Lenin’s time, the leadership of the Bolshevik Party and of the Communist International, even when directly engaged in negotiations with imperialist powers, openly declared to the world proletariat that capitalism and socialism are two incompatible regimes. Not for one minute did it suspend calling upon the workers of all the capitalist countries to overthrow the rule of their own exploiters, and actively preparing them for it. It always fitted the domestic and foreign policy of the USSR into the framework of the strategy of world socialist revolution, and considered its prime task to be that of giving maximum assistance to the Communist parties of other countries so that they could take advantage of every revolutionary situation which opened up before them for the overthrow of capitalism.

Of course Lenin and the leadership of the Bolshevik Party and the Communist International at that time, could not exclude the possibility, even the necessity, of temporary compromises with imperialism. Every sane revolutionist understands that every war, and certainly the social war of the working class against the capitalist class, is necessarily interrupted by periods of calm, of truces and of armistices. But as Lenin so lucidly explained in “Left-Wing” Communism: An Infantile Disorder, such compromises in the class struggle are allowed solely on condition “of knowing how to apply these tactics in such a way as to raise and not lower the general level of proletarian class consciousness, revolutionary spirit, ability to fight and to conquer.”

This conception of Lenin flowed logically from the doctrine of the Bolshevik Party and of the Communist International, according to which the socialist revolution can be only the work of the conscious and sovereign working masses.

Results of Degeneration
The social degeneration of the USSR has brought it to a complete revision of these fundamental principles of Leninism. Today it proclaims and makes all the leaders of the parties which follow it also proclaim that capitalism and socialism are two systems which can live side by side in complete peace and harmony. It categorically forbids the leaders of the Communist parties in bourgeois countries to speak of “revolution” or of the overthrow of capitalism in their countries. On the contrary it orders them to restrict their propaganda to the “defense of the national independence” of their own capitalist countries! These same leaders who today accuse you of “misunderstanding the Marxist-Leninist conception of class and of the state” have themselves kept the communist workers of the capitalist countries in the darkest ignorance on these questions. They were not content only to enter the capitalist governments of France, Italy, Belgium, etc. from 1945 to 1947 and to forget everything that Lenin wrote against the reformist Social-Democracy on the impossibility of “conquering” the bourgeois state apparatus from within and on the necessity of destroying it and replacing it with a new workers’ Soviet state apparatus. They have gone so far during this period as to forbid the workers to make use of strikes for improving their miserable living conditions, and this in countries which are the bastions of European capitalism!

All these maneuvers have not in the least deceived the imperialist bourgeoisie, as the emissaries and foreign agents of the leaders of the Russian Communist Party would have us believe. The bourgeoisie has not for a moment given up its view that the Soviet Union is a mortal enemy. But they have confused, disoriented and deceived the workers of the capitalist countries. Only yesterday the workers saw the leaders of the Communist parties opposing their class movements, whereas today such movements are abruptly and bureaucratically launched. Thus the workers have the impression of being the dupes of a policy which is foreign to their own interests and of being utilized solely as a “maneuverable mass” by their leaders.

This policy broke the revolutionary fervor of the masses which, in France, Italy and elsewhere in 1944, equaled the fervor you experienced in your country. This is explained precisely by the fundamental revision of the very conception of socialism wrought by the leaders of the Russian Communist Party. Whereas Lenin and the Communist International in its initial period considered socialist revolution in the capitalist world the product of mass action, the present leadership of the Russian Communist Party is preoccupied exclusively with the military, economic and territorial expansion of the USSR. Whereas Lenin and the Communist International in its initial period considered it their most important task to assist the Communist parties of other countries onto the road of revolutionary mobilization of the masses in their own countries, the present leadership of the Russian Communist Party, contemptuous of foreign Communist parties and workers—as you know well from your own sad experience!—does not in the least hesitate to bar the revolutionary and socialist road to its fellow-parties when this is required by its own sordid considerations. This break with the Leninist conception of world revolution is the most conclusive ideological proof of the profound degeneration of the present leadership of the Russian Communist Party and of its complete rupture with the interests of the world proletariat.

Under these conditions, it seems particularly cynical for the present leaders of the Russian Communist Party and of the Cominform to accuse you of misunderstanding “proletarian internationalism” and of following a nationalist policy. This is said by those same Russian leaders whose chauvinistic propaganda during the war, in which they refused to draw a distinction between the German workers and their Nazi butchers, was chiefly responsible for the absence of a revolution in Germany, whereas in Yugoslavia the partisan movement was able to attract into its ranks thousands of worker-soldiers from the occupation armies. This is said by a Togliatti who did not hesitate to launch, along with the genuine fascists of the MSI (Movimento Sociale dell’Italia), a chauvinist campaign for the return of former colonies to his capitalist country. This is said by a Thorez whose nationalist hysteria on the question of reparations for imperialist France gives untold satisfaction to bourgeois politicians in the Poincaré tradition. Really, these people are certainly in a very poor position to give lessons on internationalism to anybody.

It is no less true, comrades, that the nationalism introduced into the Communist parties corresponds precisely with this same kind of degeneration which you now discern in Russia. No progress can be made toward socialism unless every trace of nationalism is extirpated from the thinking of communist militants. To fight for the right of self-determination of each nation, to struggle against national oppression, continually introduced and extended under imperialism in its decadent phase, is a primary task for the communist movement. And genuine communists are distinguished from petty-bourgeois nationalists precisely by the fact that they conduct this struggle in an internationalist spirit, always drawing a line between the bourgeoisie and proletariat of the imperialist country, carrying on the struggle within the framework of the revolutionary struggle for the overthrow of capitalism in their own country. It is particularly necessary to eliminate from propaganda all appeals to a national tradition which can injure the workers of other countries, all attacks against nations as such, all territorial demands based on chauvinist arguments. The Austrian and Italian bourgeoisies are today hoping that the Communist parties of their countries, under the directives from the Cominform, will line up in the capitalist camp to “solve” the problem of Carinthia and Trieste in the interests of imperialism. You must understand that there is only one way to foil the infamous maneuvers of the bourgeoisie and of the leaders of the Cominform against your party: that is to appeal boldly to the international solidarity of the workers, to proclaim aloud the right of peoples to self-determination, and to propose solutions of outstanding problems along this line.

You have settled the national question in your country with some degree of success. A truly communist and internationalist attitude toward international problems would not fail to strengthen immeasurably your position in the consciousness and feeling of millions of workers throughout the entire world.

What Road Will You Follow?
Comrades, your Congress which is about to meet, the delegates which will compose it, and the thousands of communist members whom they will represent, find themselves, on this day following the Cominform resolution against your party, confronting decisions of truly historical import. Three roads are open to you and you must choose one of them. Your choice will decide for years, if not for decades, the fate of your country and of its proletariat, and will exercise a profound influence on the evolution and future of the entire world communist movement.

The first road open to you would be to consider that despite the serious injuries dealt you by the leaders of the Russian Communist Party, it is above all necessary today, in the present world situation, to maintain a complete monolithic unity with the policies and ideology of the Russian Communist Party. There are certainly members in your midst who will propose such a course and will even suggest that it is preferable, under these conditions, to make a public apology and a declaration accepting the “criticism” of the Cominform, even to change your leadership, and wait for a “better occasion” to defend your particular conceptions within the “big communist family.”

Such a decision would be in our opinion an irreparable and tragic error and would do the greatest damage not only to your own party and your own working class but to the international proletariat and communist movement, above all to the workers in the USSR. You must by now know the methods and ideas of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party sufficiently well to understand that that body will never be satisfied by public declarations and political decisions. It will demand that all power in the party and the country should pass into the hands of its own “civil and military agents” and of those among you whom it believes it can manipulate like puppets. It will completely eliminate, along with your present leaders, all cadres which think independently, all members who dare raise their voices in protest. It will completely subordinate the interests of the workers and poor peasants of Yugoslavia to the needs of its own diplomatic maneuvers with imperialism. It will smash your party as an independent force and will deal a terrible blow to the socialist consciousness of the workers of your country. It will wind up by physically liquidating all those who dared resist for a moment. The tragic example of so many old Bolshevik leaders in Russia shows that it never pardons even a passing opposition, even when such pardon has been “bought” a thousand times by self-criticism and breast-beating of the most humiliating kind.

Such a decision would deal an even greater blow to the international communist movement. In all countries, the most courageous and independent Communist members, who are today stirred by your action, would be reduced to silence. The most servile elements would triumph everywhere. The pernicious principle that “whoever criticizes the Soviet government is an agent of imperialism,” which has already cost the international Communist movement so dearly, would be more firmly entrenched than ever. Thousands of sincere revolutionary workers, who have with good cause been revolted by the anti-Leninist policies pursued by the Cominform leaders, would fall back again into passivity and skepticism, thereby increasing the isolation everywhere of the communist forces and thereby strengthening the forces of reaction and imperialism. The road would be cleared for new defeats for the international proletariat.

A second road will certainly be suggested, consisting essentially of retiring into Yugoslavia, repelling the attacks and the eventual violence and provocations of the Cominform and its agents, and attempting to “build socialism” in your own country, while concluding trade relations with the powers of Eastern Europe as well as with those of the imperialist West. We will not conceal from you, comrades, that we consider this second road just as pernicious as the first.

It is completely utopian to think it possible to “maneuver” during a whole period between the USSR and the USA without being subject during this same period to a growing pressure from these two giants. The success of “maneuvers” depends in the final analysis on the relationship of forces, and, on the plane of economic, political and military power, the relationship of forces is obviously not in your favor. American imperialism will gladly make some advances to you for that would increase the weight of its arguments in its conversations with Moscow. But what it is looking for basically is not to support you against the USSR but to conclude a compromise with Russia, if necessary at your expense. Not only would the present leaders of the Russian Communist Party have no hesitation about accepting such a compromise, but they would even work furiously to create the greatest economic difficulties for you so as to force you to capitulate or to surrender completely to Yankee imperialism, in order thereby to “demonstrate” to world working-class opinion that every rupture with Moscow signifies going over to the “American camp.”

On the other hand, you must be aware that imperialism will rapidly become increasingly demanding toward you, especially if it is encouraged along this road by Moscow, as is to be feared. Its pressure will first be concentrated on your trade relations. Its first objective will be to include you in the Marshall Plan zone. In the course of putting this into effect, it will aim subsequently to destroy all the social reforms brought about in Yugoslavia in the past three years. To the extent that Russia will isolate you and that your economic difficulties will increase and imperialist pressure sharpen, reaction within your own country will lift its head. The kulak would attempt to make contact with the international market. American capital would penetrate through all the crevices in your mixed economy in order to help them achieve this. Your days would be numbered.

Every policy set up on the basis of ignoring the international contradictions, which are the all-embracing framework in which all problems of Yugoslav policy are posed; every policy which would pose questions of industrialization independently of the problem of securing equipment by means of international trade, and consequently, independently of the pressure of the capitalist world market; every policy of this kind must be rejected forthright. Otherwise the work undertaken by your party can only meet with complete ruin. In view of the slanderous accusations of the leaders of the Cominform, it is imperative to be sharply conscious of the lurking danger of imperialist pressure, so that you will take no step without carefully considering the consequences on that score. Therein lies the main guarantee of genuine revolutionary and socialist progress on your part.

Finally, there remains the third road, the most difficult, bristling with the most obstacles, the genuine communist road for the Yugoslav party and proletariat. This road is the road of return to the Leninist conception of socialist revolution, of return to a world strategy of class struggle. It must start, in our opinion, with a clear understanding of the fact that the Yugoslav revolutionary forces can only become stronger and consolidate their positions thanks to the conscious support of the working masses of their own country and of the entire world. It means above all to understand that the decisive force on the world arena is neither imperialism with its resources and arms, nor the Russian state with its formidable apparatus. The decisive force is the immense army of workers, of poor peasants and of colonial peoples, whose revolt against their exploiters is steadily rising, and who need only a conscious leadership, a suitable program of action and an effective organization in order to bring the enormous task of world socialist revolution to a successful conclusion.

We do not presume to offer you a blueprint. We understand the tremendous difficulties which you must contend with in a poorly equipped country which has been devastated by war. We desire only to point out to you what are, in our opinion, the main lines through which to concretize this international revolutionary policy—the only policy which will enable you to hold out while waiting for new struggles of the masses, to stimulate them and to conquer with them.

To commit oneself to this road means, especially in Yugoslavia itself, to base oneself openly and completely on the revolutionary dynamics of the masses. The Front committees must be organs which are genuinely elected by the workers of city and country, arising from a tightly knit system of workers and of poor farmers.

They must become genuine state organs and must take the place of the present hybrid organs which are relics of the bourgeois state apparatus. They must be the organs of Soviet democracy, in which all workers will have the right to express their opinions and their criticisms without reservation and without fear of reprisal. The right of workers to organize other workers’ parties must be laid down as a principle, subject only to the condition that they take their place within the framework of Soviet legality. The present hybrid constitution must be revised and a new one, taking its inspiration from the Leninist constitution of 1921, must be set up by an assembly of delegates from the workers’ and poor peasants’ committees.

These decisive political changes must be conceived as the end result of a real mass mobilization, to be brought about by your party through carrying these Leninist ideas into the most distant villages of your country, explaining the differences between the Soviet state and other state forms, and the superiority of the former type. That is the way Lenin did it in 1917, with the greatest simplicity. A vast campaign of re-education must be started, together with a period of discussion and of unhampered expression of opinion by the workers. The latter will express their criticisms of the present state of affairs in their assemblies. The party will finally know, directly, what the real aspirations of the masses are, and will obtain the constructive suggestions of the working-class masses, whose vast creative energy is the surest guarantee of socialism. Your party has nothing to fear from such a development. The confidence of the masses in it will grow enormously and it will become the effective collective expression of the interests and desires of the proletariat of its country.

It will not be enough, however, to reestablish the complete sovereignty of the committees, to change the standing army into a genuine workers’ and peasants’ militia, to replace appointed judges with those elected by the masses, to reestablish and firmly maintain the principle of payment of functionaries on the basis of the average wages of a skilled worker. The problem of the revolutionary transformation of your country is essentially an economic one, in which the question of the peasantry takes first place.

There is but one Leninist way to approach this problem: to seek support from the poor and exploited layers of the country and to be careful not to violate the laws whereby your economy functions, but on the contrary to utilize them in the interests of socialism. The land must be nationalized and a struggle waged against the concentration of income and property in the hands of the kulaks. But these measures cannot be made solely by administrative means, neither by decrees nor by force. What is necessary is that the immense majority of the peasants must view it as in their own interests. For this, a review of the Five Year Plan and the relations between agriculture and industry is necessary. The plan for industrialization must be able, above all things, to guarantee a growing quantity of consumer goods for the peasants. By means of stabilizing the dinar and a strict system of dividing industrial consumer goods, the state can offer more to the small and middle peasant than the kulak will be able to give him. It is necessary at the same time to give the utmost support to the freely formed cooperatives of the small peasants, to reserve all modern working equipment for them, grant them cheap credit, and to establish such conditions for them that they will live better and earn more than the middle peasants who continue to work their lands as individuals. This will prove to be the surest method of isolating the kulak in the village and of developing and accelerating voluntary cooperation locally.

Progress of this kind will be realizable only by changing the method of drawing up and verifying plans. No group of spetzes can ascertain mathematically the real equilibrium between the needs of the workers, those of the peasants, and the capital needs of the economy, upon which equilibrium depends the harmonious planning and development of the country. It is essential that the masses be induced to participate as actively as possible in the work of planning, that the greatest heed be paid to their complaints, and that the needs expressed by them be the primary factor in planning.

Complete sovereignty of the factory committees must be established in the plants, and genuine workers’ control of production must be instituted. The trade unions must be granted their real function, which is to defend the interests of the workers, even against the Soviet state if necessary, as Lenin repeatedly asserted. In a word it is necessary to give the workers and poor peasants the clear feeling that they are the masters in the country, and that the state and the progress of the economy are in direct correspondence with their own interests.

We do not at all conceal that such a policy will encounter very great obstacles in your country and even in your own ranks. A complete re-education of your cadres in the spirit of genuine Leninism would be necessary. Still less do we conceal that world imperialism and the present leadership of the Russian State would furiously attack your policy, for it would appear to them a mortal threat to their acquired positions. But if you will apply the same Leninist principles in your foreign policy, you can be sure of powerful support from the workers and the oppressed of the entire world, and your cause cannot lose.

You would have to make a sharp break with all the practices of traditional secret diplomacy and return to the revolutionary diplomacy practiced in the time of Lenin; you would have to become the champion and active supporter of all colonial peoples revolting against their imperialist masters; you would have to proclaim to the world the conditions for a just peace, without annexations or reparations; you would have to demand the immediate withdrawal of the occupation troops of all the great powers from all occupied countries, and strict application of the right of self-determination of peoples in all disputed questions. With one blow you will gain the sympathy of the Austrian and German masses who today feel themselves deceived and betrayed by all parties. You would have to develop and sharpen your propaganda in favor of the Danubian Federation by giving it its classical communist form and by launching the slogan for the Balkan Federation of Soviet Socialist Republics among the workers and poor peasants of neighboring countries, who would take it up with enthusiasm. And finally it would be necessary to incorporate this propaganda within the concrete framework of propaganda for the SOCIALIST SOVIET UNITED STATES OF EUROPE; to convoke a conference at Belgrade of the trade-union and workers’ representatives from all the countries of Europe, including Germany and Austria; to draw up with them a plan for the economic reconstruction of the continent on a socialist basis, in opposition to the Marshall Plan, and to make this socialist plan the central axis for revolutionary propaganda in Europe and in the world.

Your possibilities for action along the road of genuine Leninism disclose themselves to be enormous. But your historical responsibility far surpasses everything which has been outlined above. Millions of workers throughout the world are today profoundly disgusted with the policies and methods used by the present leaders of the Cominform. Unwilling to pass over into the imperialist camp in any guise whatever, they vainly seek a new pole of attraction, a new political leadership. Only the vanguard of this mass has at this time found the road toward our organization, the FOURTH INTERNATIONAL. You can become the mobilization point for this mass of revolutionary workers and thus, with a single blow, completely change the present condition of paralysis within the world working-class movement, the stranglehold of the agents of Washington and of the degenerated Russian bureaucracy. The social struggles which are developing and will develop within all countries will thereby be given the opportunity for a successful revolutionary conclusion. The Third World War, which threatens to throw the USSR and all of Europe into an abyss, can be prevented. The socialist future will unfold in all its glory before humanity.

Comrades, we address this letter to you because we are conscious of the terrible dilemma in which you find yourselves; because we understand exactly the tremendous responsibility weighing upon you, and because we consider it our communist duty to assist you in resolving the present crisis in communism along proletarian and Leninist lines.

We have many and important differences with your past and recent policies. We are in complete disagreement with the theory and practice of “People’s Democracy” for we do not believe in any other road from capitalism to socialism than the dictatorship of the proletariat. We believe that the use and propagation of bourgeois and petty-bourgeois ways of living (servants, livery, titles, officers’ stripes, decorations) can only serve to demoralize real communists. But we are conscious of the enormous difficulties involved in a discussion between us, in view of the separation in activities which has existed between us for so many years. For this reason we consider it our duty to convey our ideas to you in a long and fruitful discussion, in the course of which we can each advise the other of our experiences in the revolutionary struggle and can clarify our differences in a spirit of genuine proletarian and communist fraternity.

Our organization, the Fourth International, originated in the Left Opposition of the Bolshevik Party, which 25 years ago already saw the germs of the degeneration of the Russian Communist Party which you are discovering today. Hunted, persecuted, expelled, the Left Opposition fought nevertheless for ten years for reintegration into the official Communist movement. Only when the present leadership of the Russian Communist Party surrendered the German proletariat to the executioner Hitler without a struggle, and thereby opened a period of bloody defeats for the world working class, did our movement come to the conclusion that a new revolutionary International had to be built. Since then, the bureaucrats who now lead the Russian State have poured a ceaseless stream of vile slander over our International and no crime has been too sordid for them in their attempts to destroy us. Just as today they call you “agents of imperialism,” so they have labeled us “fascist spies,” when in reality hundreds of our best cadres and leaders gave their lives in the struggle against fascism. Just as today they are organizing the assassination of your leadership, so did they manage to assassinate Leon Trotsky, organizer of the October victory, creator of the Red Army, the greatest leader of the Communist movement since the death of Lenin—Trotsky, who just a few days before his death, expressed his unshakable devotion to communism and to the real Soviet Union of the workers and peasants in his moving “Letter to the Soldiers of the Red Army.”

But all these crimes did not succeed in smashing the FOURTH INTERNATIONAL because nothing can smash genuine Leninism! Today it has sections in 35 different countries on all continents, consisting of battle-tested and experienced revolutionary Communist members who stand for what is best in their class. Although weak in material resources, its Second World Congress, held last April in Paris, demonstrated that it was strong in political cohesion, in program, and in its clear understanding of present-day reality. Today it is launching in all countries a vast campaign protesting against the bureaucratic measures which the Cominform has taken against you. It appeals to communist workers of all countries to send their delegations to Yugoslavia, in order to make a spot check of the real policy followed by your party. Tomorrow it will make your documents known in 20 different languages—for workers’ democracy is not just an idle phrase to the Fourth International, and a communist cannot permit a member to be judged without a hearing. It asks that you allow a delegation from our leadership to attend your Congress, in order to establish contact with the Yugoslav communist movement and to set up fraternal ties which can serve only the interests of the world communist revolution.

Comrades, the cause of communism, of the revolutionary emancipation of the proletariat is invincible. No force in the world can prevent the genuine communists from ridding themselves of slanderers and would-be assassins so that they can go forward boldly toward their revolutionary goal. The quicker this task is done, the faster will the world revolution triumph.

Yugoslav Communists, Let Us Unite Our Efforts for a New Leninist International! For the World Victory of Communism!

The International Secretariat of the Fourth International
July 13, 1948

1 Les congrès de la IVe Internationale, Vol. 3, Bouleversements et crises de l’après-guerre (1946-1950) (Montreuil: Editions La Brèche-PEC, 1988), 394.

Privas-Marin Resolution on the Yugoslav Crisis
PCI Resolution on the Yugoslavia Crisis
Written: 1948
Source: Prometheus Research Library, Prometheus Research Series No. 4, New York, 1993
Transcription/Markup/Proofing: John Heckman.
Public Domain: Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line 2007/Prometheus Research Library. You can freely copy, display and otherwise distribute this work. Please credit the Marxists Internet Archive & Prometheus Research Library as your source, include the url to this work, and note the transcribers & editors above.


The following resolution, submitted by Privas (Jacques Grimblatt) and Marcel Marin (Marcel Gibelin), was adopted by the Fifth Congress of the French Parti Communiste Internationaliste, held in July 1948. The French text appeared in the PCI’s internal bulletin, La vie du parti No. 1, August 1948. The translation is by the Prometheus Research Library.

The crisis which has broken out in the Cominform between Tito and the Kremlin should be considered from the standpoint:

1) of the underlying causes of this crisis;

2) of the prospects for development of this crisis;

3) of our intervention into these events.

A precise analysis is necessary exactly because of the importance of the repercussions this event is having and will have among the ranks of the Stalinist workers.

1) The Causes of the Crisis
The Stalinist policy has as its underlying line the exploitation of the workers movement for the needs and the defense of the interests exclusively of the privileged bureaucrats of the USSR.

In the countries of the buffer zone this policy takes the concrete form of exploiting these countries: economically, diplomatically and strategically (preferential treaties, privileged treatment of the ruble, exploitation of the economy to benefit the Red Army or the Soviet state).

This policy which preserves capitalist relations in the economy out of fear of the masses, which blocks the development of the buffer zone countries, necessarily creates a profound crisis in these countries. This crisis is expressed in the pressure of the bourgeois elements to re-establish ties with imperialism, and even in halfhearted notions of finding a solution on the part of indigenous Stalinist leaders (Dimitrov proposing a Balkan federation). Against these pressures and notions, in order to contain the crisis while maintaining its exploitation, the Kremlin is obliged increasingly to utilize methods of terror

a) against the bourgeois politicians

b) against the revolutionary elements

c) and even to replace the indigenous Stalinists with direct emissaries of the Kremlin (five “Russian” members on the seven-member Bulgarian PB).

This general situation, the necessary result of the application of the Stalinists’ policy, is governed by military and police measures, but this does not resolve the crisis. If in Yugoslavia the Stalinist CP has been led to resist this Russification, it is because, having assumed full responsibility for the state, it must respond to the needs of Yugoslav society and of each of its components: to assure a minimum of economic stability and to somewhat satisfy the needs of the different social classes. Complete control by the Kremlin absolutely prevents the fulfillment of this task.

If this situation—which is fundamentally that of all the countries of the buffer zone—has provoked active resistance first in Yugoslavia, this is due to its particular situation originating in the struggle of the Yugoslav masses during the occupation, which gave the Yugoslav CP a mass base and much more independence.

Stalin could not permit such independence in a party—especially of the buffer zone—without risking the breakup, not only of the system of exploitation of the buffer zone, but also of the whole hierarchical police state system of world Stalinism.

2) Prospects for the Crisis
One thing is certain: if it is impossible in general for a customary transitional situation to be maintained in the countries of the buffer zone, it is even more impossible in an isolated country.

The importance of the situation that has been created in Yugoslavia is that it objectively poses to the Yugoslav masses—not in general terms, but one could say immediately—the need to choose between socialism and capitalism.

The choice, even if it is still muddled, will necessarily lead to discussion and struggles between currents and classes in Yugoslavia.

The Yugoslav CP can only capitulate to the Kremlin, to the U.S., or embark on the path of revolution—although of course it is not possible to predict today which path will be taken or what the pace of development will be.

In any case, it is almost certain that without an intervention by the proletariat of the buffer zone and of the world, the path taken by the Yugoslav proletariat will not be that of revolution. Capitulation to the Kremlin or to the U.S. would be inevitable.

3) The Thrust of Our Intervention
The first major crack in the Stalinist apparatus is necessarily leading immense masses of Stalinist workers to fundamentally reconsider Stalinist politics. Obviously, we cannot remain indifferent to an event of this importance; rather we must intervene aggressively to help the proletariat as a whole to understand the Stalinist betrayal, and the Yugoslav proletarians to find the path of revolution.

In the Western countries, we must give an overall explanation of the causes of the Yugoslav crisis, demonstrating in particular the Stalinist conception of the defense of the USSR, the counterrevolutionary nature of the ties imposed by Moscow and of the theory and practice of “people’s democracy.”

To the Yugoslav proletarians we will demonstrate that the rupture with Moscow is the indispensable step for the struggle for socialism, and we will indicate the concrete and programmatic paths that make it possible (soviets, proletarian democracy, appeal to proletarians of other countries).

We do not at all reproach the I.S. for appealing to the Yugoslav CP and its CC. This step is appropriate given the relations between the masses and the CP. But we do object to these letters for idealizing Tito and the Yugoslav CP (revolutionary workers party—“continue your struggle for socialism”).*


* This objection does not in any way signify a disagreement with the I.S. on the nature of the USSR, the buffer zone, and Stalinism.

On the other hand, the issue of La Vérité devoted to Yugoslavia, which defends the point of view of the I.S., provides no useful explanation when it gives the apparatus’ own laws as the cause of the crisis of the apparatus.

If this resolution is adopted, it does not mean that the PCI exempts itself from the discipline of the international leadership.

Letter on Yugoslavia Sent to the IEC by the RCP (Britain)


Written: 1948
Source: Prometheus Research Library, Prometheus Research Series No. 4, New York, 1993
Transcription/Markup/Proofing: John Heckman.
Public Domain: Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line 2007/Prometheus Research Library. You can freely copy, display and otherwise distribute this work. Please credit the Marxists Internet Archive & Prometheus Research Library as your source, include the url to this work, and note the transcribers & editors above.


The following letter to the International Executive Committee of the Fourth International by British Revolutionary Communist Party leader Jock Haston is undated, but apparently written in the summer of 1948 and was never published in the internal bulletins of the American Socialist Workers Party. The text is taken from a photocopy in the collection of the Prometheus Research Library. Excerpts from the Open Letters by the International Secretariat of the Fourth International cited in the text are from a different translation than the English versions reprinted in this bulletin.

To the IEC

Dear Comrades,

The Yugoslav-Cominform dispute offers the Fourth International great opportunities to expose to rank and file Stalinist militants the bureaucratic methods of Stalinism. It is possible to underline the way in which the Stalinist leaderships suppress any genuine discussion on the conflict by distorting the facts and withholding the replies of the YCP leadership from their rank and file. By stressing such aspects of the Yugoslav expulsion, we can have a profound effect on militants in the Communist Parties.

However, our approach to this major event must be a principled one. We cannot lend credence, by silence on aspects of YCP policy and regime, to any impression that Tito or the leaders of the YCP are Trotskyist, and that great obstacles do not separate them from Trotskyism. Our exposure of the bureaucratic manner of the expulsion of the YCP must not mean that we become lawyers for the YCP leadership, or create even the least illusion that they do not still remain, despite the break with Stalin, Stalinists in method and training.

In our opinion, the Open Letters of the IS to the YCP Congress failed to fulfil these absolutely essential conditions. They failed to pose directly and clearly what is wrong, not only with the CPSU, but with the YCP. The whole approach and the general tone of the letters are such as to create the illusion that the YCP leadership are communists, mistaken in the past, and discovering for the first time the evils of the bureaucratic methods of Moscow, instead of leaders who have actively participated in aiding the bureaucracy and acting as its agents in the past.

The letters appear to be based on the perspective that the leaders of the YCP can be won over to the Fourth International. Under the stress of events, strange transformations of individuals have taken place, but it is exceedingly unlikely, to say the least, that Tito and other leaders of the YCP can again become Bolshevik-Leninists. Tremendous obstacles stand in the way of that eventuality: past traditions and training in Stalinism, and the fact that they themselves rest on a Stalinist bureaucratic regime in Yugoslavia. The letters failed to point out the nature of these obstacles, fail to underline that for the leadership of the YCP to become communists, it is necessary for them not only to break with Stalinism, but to repudiate their own past, their present Stalinist methods, and to openly recognise that they themselves bear a responsibility for the building of the machine now being used to crush them. Here it is not a question of communists facing a “terrible dilemma,” with an “enormous responsibility” weighing on them, to whom we offer modest advice: it is a question of Stalinist bureaucrats becoming communists.

The aim of such Open Letters can only be limited. By placing on record a correct and principled analysis of the role of the Stalinist bureaucracy and that of the YCP leadership, by offering aid to the YCP in a clearly defined communist struggle, the Open Letters could be useful propaganda, aiding the approach to the rank and file seeking a communist lead.

As they stand, however, by their silence on fundamental aspects of the regime in Yugoslavia and YCP policy, the letter strike an opportunist note.

It is not our experience that the most courageous and most independent communist militants “are today stimulated by your [the YCP] action.” The Cominform crisis has rather sown confusion in the CP ranks and disorientated its supporters. That is to our advantage. But although it is a relatively easy task to expose the Cominform manoeuvres, there is sufficient truth in some of their accusations against Tito—particularly with regard to the internal regime, the National Front—to cause among Stalinist rank and filers an uneasiness with regard to the leaders of the YCP. That gives us an opportunity to win these militants not to the cause of Tito, but to Trotskyism.

Tito is attempting, and will attempt, to follow an independent course between Moscow and Washington, without altering the bureaucratic machine or turning to proletarian internationalism. A bureaucratic regime, resting as it does mainly on the peasantry, can have no independent perspective between the Soviet Union and American imperialism. The main emphasis of the letters should have been to show the necessity for a radical break with the present policy of the YCP, the introduction of soviet democracy within the party and the country, coupled with a policy of proletarian internationalism. The position must be posed to Yugoslav militants, not as a choice between three alternatives—the Russian bureaucracy, American imperialism, proletarian internationalism—but, first and foremost, as a choice between proletarian democracy within the regime and party, proletarian internationalism, and the present bureaucratic setup which must inevitably succumb before the Russian bureaucracy or American imperialism.

The IS letters analyse the dispute solely on the plane of the “interference” of the CPSU leaders, as if it were here solely a question of that leadership seeking to impose its will without consideration for the “traditions, the experience and the dealings” of militants. But the dispute is not simply one of a struggle of a Communist Party for independence from the decrees of Moscow. It is a struggle of a section of the bureaucratic apparatus for such independence. The stand of Tito represents, it is true, on the one hand the pressure of the masses against the exactions of the Russian bureaucracy, against the “organic unity” demanded by Moscow, discontent at the standards of the Russian specialists, pressure of the peasantry against too rapid collectivisation. But on the other hand, there is the desire of the Yugoslav leaders to maintain an independent bureaucratic position and further aspirations of their own.

It is not sufficient to lay the crimes of international Stalinism at the door of the leadership of the CPSU. Not only in respect to Yugoslavia, but also in respect to other countries, the Open Letter gives the entirely false impression that it is the Russian leadership which is solely responsible. To pose the relations in the international Stalinist movement in the manner of the IS letter—that the leadership of the CPSU “forced Thorez to disarm the French partisans,” “forced the Spanish communists to declare...that the seizure of the factories...was ‘a treason’,” “completely prohibits the leaderships of the Communist Parties in the capitalist countries from speaking of revolution”—can create illusions that the leaders of the national Stalinist parties could be good revolutionists, if only Moscow would let them. It is true that the degeneration of the CPs flowed basically from the degeneration in the Soviet Union. But the sickness of the Stalinist movement is also accountable by the utter corruption of the national leaderships who are bound up in the bureaucratic machine. These leaders actively participate in the preparation of the crimes. So also for Tito, it was not a matter of having been “forced” to carry out the wished of Moscow in the past.

It is impermissible to slur over the nature of the YCP, its identity on fundamental points with other Stalinist parties. Such a slurring over can only disorientate Stalinist workers. Yet every attempt is made by the IS to narrow the gulf that separates the policy of the YCP from Bolshevik-Leninism. What other conclusion can we draw from statements such as the following:

“...the Cominform accuse you of misunderstanding ‘proletarian internationalism’ and of following a nationalist policy. This is said by that same Russian leadership whose chauvinist propaganda during the largely responsible for the absence of a revolution in Germany, whereas [our emphasis] in Yugoslavia the partisan movement was able to draw to its ranks thousands of proletarian soldiers from the armies of occupation. This is said by Togliatti, who has not hesitated to throw himself, alongside the real fascists of the Movimento Sociale el Italia (MSI), in a chauvinistic campaign for the return to the capitalist fatherland of its former colonies. This is said by Thorez, whose nationalist hysteria on the question of reparations for imperialist France delights the bourgeois heirs of Poincaré.”

It is true that the Yugoslav Stalinists settled, with some success, the national problem inside their own country. It was their programme with regard to this question that enabled them to win over members of the quisling armies. But the comrades must be aware that the propaganda of the YCP towards Germany was of the same chauvinistic character as that of the Russian and other Stalinist parties. The IS letter deals with the necessity for proletarian internationalism in the abstract, without taking up the concrete question of YCP policy today and in the past. It was surely necessary to point out concretely what this proletarian internationalism means, by dealing with the past and present policy of the YCP, which has been no whit less chauvinistic than that of other Stalinist parties. The IS mentions Togliatti’s chauvinism, and Thorez’ nationalist hysteria, and leaves the impression of a favourable comparison between the policy of other Stalinist parties and that of the YCP. We cannot be silent on the YCP’s chauvinistic campaign around Trieste, their attitude towards reparations, their uncritical support for the Russian bureaucracy’s demand for reparations from the German people. It is necessary to take up these questions so that it shall be clear precisely what the gulf is between a nationalist and an internationalist policy, and precisely what it is that Yugoslav militants must struggle against.

But there is another aspect of the IS letters which cannot pass by without the IEC adopting an attitude and expressing an opinion.

The World Congress majority adopted a position that the buffer countries, including Yugoslavia, were capitalist countries. It rejected the resolution of the RCP that these economies were being brought into line with that of the Soviet Union and could not be characterised as capitalist. The amendment of the British party to the section “The USSR and Stalinism” was defeated. But it is evident from these letters that the IS has been forced by events to proceed from the standpoint of the British party, that the productive and political relations in Yugoslavia are basically identical with those of the Soviet Union.

If indeed there exists in Yugoslavia a capitalist state, then the IS letters can only be characterised as outright opportunist. For the IS does not pose the tasks in Yugoslavia which would follow if bourgeois relations existed there as the dominant form. The letters are based on conclusions which can only flow from the premise that the basic overturn of capitalism and landlordism has taken place.

The second Open Letter gives several conditions necessary if Yugoslavia is to go forward with true revolutionary and communist progress. Yet nowhere does [it] call for the destruction of bourgeois relations in the economy and the overturn in the bourgeois system and regime. The tasks laid down in the latter are:

“The committees of the Front...must be organs of soviet democracy....

“To revise the present Constitution [based on that of the Soviet Union]....

“To admit in principle the right of the workers to organise other working class parties, on condition that these latter place themselves in the framework of soviet legality....

“To procure the broadest participate of the masses in the sphere of planning....

“To establish the full sovereignty of the factory set up a real workers’ control of production.”

And so on. Nowhere did the IS deem it necessary to call on the Yugoslav workers to overthrow capitalism. Had the IS been able to base itself on the World Congress document, that would have been their foremost, principled demand. The comrades will remember that the Congress document gives as its first reason why “the capitalist nature of the buffer zone is apparent,” that “Nowhere has the bourgeoisie as such been destroyed or expropriated.” Why no mention of this in the Open Letters? Of all the seven conditions given in the Congress document as making “apparent” the capitalist nature of Yugoslavia and other buffer countries, the IS letter mentions only one—the nationalisation of the land. But even here, the question of the failure to nationalise the land is raised not from the point of view of proving the capitalist nature of Yugoslavia. It is raised to point out, correctly, that the nationalisation of the land is necessary in order to combat the concentration of income and of land in the hands of the kulaks. The question is raised in the general context of the letter, as an aid to the socialist development of agriculture in a country where capitalism and landlordism have been overthrown, but the danger of a new exploitation is still present in the countryside.

Not only are the main tasks posed in the Open Letter identical to those to be carried out to cleanse a state similar in productive and political relations to the Soviet Union, but we must add that the impression given is that these relations are a great deal healthier than in Russia.

The articles appearing in our international press revealed one thing: the thesis adopted by the World Congress failed to provide a clear guide to the problems that arose from the Cominform-Yugoslav split and the tasks of the revolutionaries in connection with the regime and its economic base.

We appeal to the IEC to reject the orientation in the Open Letter, and to correct and repair the damage which has been done, by re-opening the discussion on the buffer zones and bringing our position into correspondence with the real economic and political developments of these countries.

With fraternal greetings,
J. Haston
on behalf of the Central Committee, RCP